If you just became a Safety Manager, congrats! I know it can be a little overwhelming at first but I’m here to help you with your first steps in your new role.
The first few weeks in your position are golden! You should cherish these weeks before the madness begins.
STEP 1: MEET EVERYONE
The first step you’re going to want to take is to meet everyone, including your management team. This step seems like an obvious one but even the best get distracted by diving into what is sitting in their new office and working on getting settled in.
If this role was added to your job description and you already know everyone at the company, don’t skip this step. New responsibilities mean new conversations.
Sit down with every member of management, one on one and have a conversation with them about what their goals and expectations are. This will help you start to build that relationship with the management team.
Don’t forget about the employees! Show up at every meeting in the first few weeks and introduce yourself so that everyone knows who you are. They should know how to contact you and feel comfortable approaching you.
Many new Safety Managers skip this step and wait until they are 4 weeks or so in which actually deteriorates those relationships. By then employees would have seen you walking around the building with no clue who you are and when they find out you’re the safety person people will lose respect for you since you didn’t introduce yourself on day one.
STEP 2: HAZARD ASSESSMENT
The second step to take is to do a hazard assessment of the entire facility. Get a feel for the company, see what hazards are currently going on, do some observations, and do an assessment of the entire facility.
This could take you anywhere from 1-5 days if you are being thorough. Make a list of what you think needs to be improved upon and what regulations apply to that industry. This is not a list to tear them apart, it’s a list to help you know what you need to work on.
STEP 3: PROGRAMS AUDIT
The Programs Audit/Paperwork Audit is looking at what that facility has done in the past. Examine what documentation is there, what training has been done regularly, what policies and procedures are currently in place, what documents they have to track disciplinary actions, and so on.
Go through all of that documentation and start making a list of things that you think need to be improved or things that are missing that should already be there. This will probably take you a week and a half to two weeks depending on how large your facility is.
STEP 4: SHARE THE RESULTS
After steps 2 and 3 you will have a long ‘punch list’ of items. Next, set up a meeting with the management team.
This meeting is not about bashing their past practices or bragging about all of the things that you have found wrong. The focus of this meeting is to bring the awareness of what can be improved upon to make the company stronger.
STEP 5: ACTION PLAN
Working on the entire list at once is not realistic or even the most effective approach. Take a moment, after discussing the issues with your management team, and prioritize the issues.
With a prioritized list you can start creating a detailed action plan that the entire management team agrees to. With this buy-in, you can start working your plan.
STEP 6: CREATE A TASK LIST
There are many things in safety that will be recurring tasks and you will do them every day, week, month, quarter, and year. With so many moving parts in our jobs, it is easy to forget to do some of them.
Creating a complete list of all these tasks helps keep you on track so that nothing falls through the cracks. At the beginning of your new role, while you are doing your hazard assessment and documentation review, it is a perfect time to start jotting down all those recurring tasks.
The programs I like to use for this are an excel spreadsheet, a google calendar, or a task list on my phone. If it’s a recurring task you are going to want to have something popping up and telling you to complete that task.
These tasks can easily fall through the cracks in your busy day so it’s good to have a reminder. Start your task list early and always update it.
After reading this, you should be able to get a jump start on the job if you recently became a Safety Manager. I want you to try these steps and see how they work out for you.
If you’ve been at this for a while. It is always fun to go back to the beginning and do these steps again. In fact, high-level safety programs have this process built-in as a yearly review.
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
Let me know in the comments if you tried these steps and how they helped you.
Hi, I'm Brye (rhymes with sky)! I am a self-proclaimed safety geek with two decades of general industry safety experience. Specializing in bringing safety programs to a world-class level and building a safety culture, I have trained and coached many safety managers, just like you, on how to effectively manage workplace safety in the real world. I would love to help you too.