As a safety professional, it's vital that you can get your fellow workers in alignment with the company safety goals, so that everyone is working safely and productively.
You can have the best safety system in the world, but if you are not communicating it correctly, your organisation is at risk.
If you've ever felt that a lot of your friends or colleagues are robotic and don't think much, I've got some news for you. You're probably right.
One of the interesting things I find when it comes to safety is that some safety professionals (some, not all) like to play bad cop when it comes to getting their safety message across.
Over the years, I've worked with a lot of safety professionals. Some of them have really surprised me with their flair for not being able to influence anyone and to talk about safety in such a boring way that all I could do was stare catatonically at the floor.
One of the things I like about my job is consulting with safety professionals on how to improve their safety communication.
I get to review monthly safety themes and safety articles for the company newsletter and proffer suggestions for improvement. Often, a complete overhaul is required.
Safety professionals are great at the technical, but struggle when it comes to packaging information for other people to digest. Sadly, just because you find restraining loads very interesting, doesn't mean others will automatically share your enthusiasm.
Recently, I was talking to a safety consultant who told me about a business he visited a while ago that had staff handling pieces of wood with multiple nails sticking out, while not wearing gloves.
Every day these employees were constantly subjecting their hands to pain, yet, no-one complained.
What's interesting about human behaviour is that when we are in physical pain the body will learn to adapt and avoid it.
Think about the last time you had a sore tooth. You automatically started eating on the other side of your mouth.
In this company where people were ignoring the daily pain of work, they just got used to it because everyone else was doing it and nobody protested. Management was okay and would have been open to suggestions (provided enough people let them knew of the issue).
To be an effective safety leader, you need to be able to persuade your workplace to buy-in to your safety vision. You have to be able to cut through any confusion on safety and focus your organisation on what is important.
One of the major frustrations of being a safety leader is that it's often difficult to get your safety messages understood and acted upon correctly.
Safety communication is often left to safety professionals to write and publish.