5 Things to Keep in Mind in Order to Succeed in Safety Management

My mission here at The Safety Geek is for you to succeed as a safety professional. I want you to be the best that you can be. And so, let’s talk about 5 things that you need to keep in mind and understand in order to succeed in your career.

Remember, Safety Management is One of The Most Important Departments

I’ve always talked about this. Safety is one of the most important departments in a company because it positively affects every department. Although, it is mostly treated as an add-on, something many companies take for granted. It is an essential

So, how does keeping this in mind help you succeed? Because you need to realize how important you are as a safety person. You are valuable. And realizing this makes it easier to do your job.

It’s Not Just Injury Management

Remember that you are not just there to manage injuries. You are there to manage the whole work process of the company and make it as safe as possible. In order to do this, you need to know every single job and task in the company, collaborate with all the departments, and create the safest and most efficient work processes.

Doing so will really increase the value you provide to the company. And this will show in the claims that the company is paying for. The savings you generate will really stand out and will enable you to have a better standing in the company.

You’re Not the Coach of Employees

Most safety professionals have the mindset that it’s their job to coach employees. However, this only wastes your time. Employees won’t listen because they will think that you are teaching them how to do their job.

So, remember that you are not the coach of employees but rather you are the coach of the coaches. Meaning that it will be way better for you to coach the supervisors and managers because employees will listen to their immediate supervisor. This will make safety policies and procedures easier to implement.

Celebrate Small Improvements

It is our basic tendency to focus on the things that we are lacking. And this reflects on our job as safety professionals. We mostly focus on what we lack in the implementation of safety procedures instead of focusing on what we’ve achieved.

When we only see what we lack, it negatively affects our emotions and motivation. However, if we focus on what we’ve achieved, regardless of how small it is, it will give us that extra boosts of motivation that we need to continue on with our work.

You Need to Be Included in Executive Management Meetings

The last thing on the list is that you need to understand that in order for you to do a better job, you need to be included in the executive management meetings. Not just included occasionally, but regularly. You need to be there every time and all throughout the meeting.

Why? Because being included in the executive meetings enables you to understand the mindset of the management team and the reasons behind their decisions. And knowing and understanding this, will help you better prepare and support them. Which, again, increases your value to the company.

Take Action

So, these are the 5 things that will help you succeed as a safety professional. Some of these aren’t easy, it really requires a lot of hard work, but trust me, it’s all worth it. And if you want to learn more skills that will help you in your career, you can subscribe to Safety Management Academy.

5 Things You Need to Know To Succeed In Safety Management

Safety Brye: [00:00:00] So when I first started in safety management, I thought that it was all about the injuries, the accidents, and the regulations. I'm pretty sure most new people think the same by the looks of the questions that I see online. But if you're going to turn this safety job, this J O B into a career, there are a few things that you need to understand.

At your core in order to succeed. So let's discuss.

Hey there, Safety friends. Welcome to the Safety Geek Podcast. I'm Brye Sargent CSP and 20 year Safety Professional after spending years training safety leaders across the globe for a large corporation and creating safety programs from the ground up over and over again. I am now sharing my processes and strategies with you.

At the Safety Geek, you will learn how to manage an effective safety program that

[00:01:00] increases your management, support, and employee engagement, all the while helping you elevate your position and move up in your career. If you're ready to step into the role of a safety influencer and leader, you're in the right place.

Let's get to it. Well, hey there, safety friend. How are you doing today? Today I wanna talk about five little mindset shifts that you need to make about your job. So over 20 years ago when I was given my first dedicated safety role, you know what most of my work curtailed accident management. I was told by my mentor at the time that the job was about managing accidents, putting training in place, accountability, and putting policies in place to prevent accidents and meet the regulations.

[00:02:00] Sounds legit. But in fact, all of these things, those are like the easy pickings. Those are the things that once you get them in place, you're kind of meeting status quo. And if you focus just on that, you will never get to a true safety culture and create the value that safety provides to companies and organizations.

You might get them to the average TCIR, or you might get them to a decent mod rate. They might be going, Kudos to you. You're keeping us average. Thank you so much. But you're better than average. And what'll happen if you don't do anything like this? You will constantly stay in this underappreciated safety servant role and never get to the rockstar that I know that you can be.

So today I wanna share five things that you need to understand at your core to be truly great at this profession. And number one is to understand that

[00:03:00] safety is one of the most important departments in any profit driven organization, especially one where they are actually have safety sensitive positions.

Now, I love to say it's the most important, but I'm not gonna be ignorant to the fact that without sales or production or whatever it is that the operations is doing, we wouldn't have a job. So we can't be the most important, but we are just as important. However, most companies actually see safety as an add-on.

In fact, it is the last department to be added to any company when they are starting from scratch. So think about it, when a company starts, they design a widget, they invent a widget, right? And they start making their widget. So production is in there. They start selling their widget. So marketing is, sales is in there.

They start hiring employees. So HR comes along, they start getting returns, so then they add in

[00:04:00] quality, and then safety becomes an afterthought. Usually once claims get out of control or insurance rates spike or their insurance company tells 'em that they need to have a safety person. And the sad truth is, is that this is actually hurting the organization because safety positively affects all the other departments.

We are the only one that can say that no other department positively affects all the other departments. Only safety does that. So when it comes to companies profitability, their efficiency, their culture, safety needs to be included and it should be included in the very beginning. And the reason why you need to understand this at your core is you need to know how important you are, how much you matter to that organization, and how much value you are bringing to the table.

Because when you truly understand that, it makes it a lot easier for you to do your job because you

[00:05:00] can express the value that you provide to that company. That is number one. I get passionate about that one. Alrighty, Number two. You are not just there for injury management. It's all about the work process as a whole.

So safety is in a unique position where we have to intimately understand every single job within the facility because we need to mitigate out the hazards that those job tasks may be creating. Every job, even the customer service, even sales, even transportation and distribution and operations. We need to understand every single job in the organization.

And what we do is identify the hazards within that job and then mitigate those hazards. And the way that you mitigate those hazards is by creating safe work practice.

[00:06:00] That means that as safety professionals, we are living and breathing work processes, and we collaborate with all levels in all areas to develop the safest and most efficient processes out there.

Once again, adding value to the organization, this is one of the most valuable things that you add to the organization, not just injury management. Because once you actually get the easy stuff done in safety management, what I was talking about in the intro, the training and the policies and procedures and all of that, it's really once all that is done trying to get them to go further and trying to actually get them to that world class level and that zero accident rate and maintaining that zero accident rate, it actually takes a lot more than those things and it comes down to very solid work practice.

You have to think about what value you're providing to the company

[00:07:00] because once all the accidents are down relatively low, like I worked for a company that was spending over $3 million a year in claims, and I got them down to 200,000, which they were very happy with. They didn't want me to do anymore, but in my mind, I wanted to get to zero.

So you can show other value and then, and showing like a $50,000 decrease at that point maybe isn't enough value for an organization that was spending 3 million. So think about that. So how can you provide more value to the company? And that comes down to efficient work processes and culture. So that is where we are there for not just in dream management. Number three,

and I've said this multiple times, and that is you are not the coach of the employees. You are the coach of the coaches,

[00:08:00] meaning that many new safety leaders, they come in and they believe that it is their job to train and coach workers. In fact, I've seen many seasoned safety leaders think that they were the only ones that can do the safety training.

But if you walk into a work site and start telling employees how to do their job, what happens? I know for a fact, like when I had to train CDL drivers and I have never driven a truck in my life, and honestly you don't want me driving anything bigger than my Camry, it is a disaster cuz like you've never driven a truck.

You don't know. You're only book smart about CDLs. So all it is is like somebody who doesn't know my job telling me how to do my job, that's why employees have that negative aspect about safety is cuz we come in telling them how to do their job and they believe that we've never done their job. Even if we have, they believe that we haven't.

Right? But here's the thing, employees will always listen and

[00:09:00] follow their immediate supervisor or their boss over you. So it shouldn't be you telling them what to do. It should be their boss. So that's why you coach the supervisors and then the supervisors coach the employees because the supervisors will listen to you because you have their boss in their ear, right?

But the employees are only gonna listen to the supervisors or to their supervisors boss, right? So your job is not to coach the employees. And in fact, what I get into in Safety Management Academy is I don't even believe it's your job to train the employee. You really should train your supervisors to train the employees.

It is your job to coach and improve the skills of your frontline supervisors. So keep that in mind. So every time you're out there saying to a worker, Hey, you know, make sure you bend your knees when you're lifting. Think about if your supervisor said that they would listen to them a lot more than you.

[00:10:00] Number four. Small improvements are worth celebrating, so stop focusing on what you don't have. We do this way too much. We try to push this a really big safety initiative, and they only do part of it, or you know, you had nothing to begin with and they're following it at 50% and instead of celebrating the fact that you went from zero to 50, we complain that we're not at a hundred.

So stop looking at what they aren't doing and pay attention to how far you have come. And there's a book I'm currently reading called The Gap and the Gain. It's by Dr. Benjamin Hardy. I will put a link in the show notes, but basically what it says in that book is how we don't focus on the positive enough. We always focus on some big goal or some big dream that is so far away.

Instead of looking backwards at how far we've come. And if you actually focus on how far you've come,

[00:11:00] it's really easy to keep going, but when you focus on how far you have to go, it's very hard to get started or to move in the right direction. So instead, celebrate those small wins. Celebrate how far you've come.

Safety is a series of baby steps and celebrate those little baby steps. It gives your brain a little dopamine hit and makes you wanna keep going. And this isn't just you, it's your entire team, right? So if your entire team gets a little celebration and a little dopamine hit, it makes it easier for them to keep going too.

It builds momentum. And number five is the one that is my mission, and then I'm trying to help everybody achieve, and that is understanding that you need to be sitting at the table to do your job better. It is the mission of the Safety Geek to help 10,000 safety leaders elevate their position

[00:12:00] and earn their seat in the C-suite. Of the hundreds of safety managers I have trained, I can count on my two hands how many were included in the executive management meetings all the way through. Some were invited to present, so they were a little bit further than others. They were like, Hey, come to the meeting and we'll put you on the agenda first, and you'll be able to present your issues and talk to the executive managers.

Great. But then they would get kicked out afterwards. And I would always ask, Why are you being told to leave? And they're like, Well, you know, they're talking about proprietary stuff. They're talking about, you know, labor and accounting and sales, but I'm sorry. Safety is the most important department in the organization.

We're one of the most important departments. You have to be included in those conversations. So what happens is most of them are not

[00:13:00] included, so then they end up creating their own committee to talk to the executives, which is another thing I teach in Safety Management Academy, which is a great step one in getting your foot in the door is to have an EAC and they do work.

And even if you're invited to the executive management meeting, I still think you need an EAC just because that conversation takes a lot longer. And most executive meetings are not gonna last all day. But they never even think that they should be sitting at the table. They agree that they don't need to sit through, you know, accounting issues and sales issues and HR issue.

But I will tell you, you need to know what is going on down the pike. You need to understand the business. You need to understand how they're measuring success. You need to start developing the same language that they use so that way you can use it in your business case for your safety initiatives. You need to know what's coming down the line so that way you can protect against it.

[00:14:00] There is nothing worse than having new machinery show up that you didn't even know was coming, and it created a whole issue. In my case, what it created was exit route issues. P P E issues, machine guarding and lockout tagout issue. And in their mind they were like, Well, we're not using the machine for a month, so it gives you time to prepare.

And I was like, But I should have been part of this decision. And these things could have been part of the purchase, but now we have to retrofit the equipment. We have to move things around. Right. So it's important for you to know what's coming down the line, even if it comes to products that will tell you, I think I've told this story before, but I actually had an issue where they changed the product.

They didn't change the process. The actual work practice stayed the same, but the product they were making changed and they didn't tell me about it until two amputations later, within like three days of each other. So even before you can really

[00:15:00] get a full investigation and change of process in place. So their new product put the employees at more risk and it ended up costing two employees their fingers.

And I got to look at it as we weren't prepared, equipment should have been purchased for this new product to protect the employees since their fingers were closer to the point of work and I wasn't told about it. And this new product that you made for these three months actually ended up costing you this many hundreds of thousands of dollars.

How much did you actually make on it? Right to the point that the next season they didn't even make that product because of the cost of the injuries that were involved. So this is why you need to know what's coming down the line. And if I had been part of those executive meetings at the time, I would've understood the product that was being made and then I could have protected against it.

It's not my job to stop them from making the product. I don't wanna do that. I wanna protect against the hazards that making that product creates. And I

[00:16:00] need time and I need knowledge in order to do that. And so do you. So you can't help them unless they make you part of that conversation and being told after the fact and after the decision is already made, it just makes your job harder.

And once again, it shows that safety is an afterthought. Safety is, you know, second class citizen I guess you could say. But anyway, those are the five things that I believe you need to know and understand to grow your career and truly knock this safety profession thing out of the part. Let me recap. So that is you need to understand that safety is one of the most important departments.

And number two, you're not just there for injury management. It is about the work practices as a whole, and you're the coach of the coaches, not the coach of the employees. Small improvements are worth celebrating. Start looking at how far you've come instead of how far you need to go and make sure that you are getting

[00:17:00] a seat at the table. Now, none of these come easy. Especially since some of them are not your choice, your team may expect you to train the employees and coach the employees. So then it's your job to change their mindset on that and to influence them into the right way. That safety management needs to be done, and that's where learning these skills to influence management, support and employee engagement come into play.

And that's what I teach you inside a Safety Management Academy. So I hope to see you as a safety scholar. One day my friend. Alrighty. That's what I have for you today. I will talk to you again very shortly, and I hope that you have an amazing and safe rest of your day. Bye for now.

Hey, if you're just getting started in safety or you've been at this for a while and are hitting a roadblock, then I wanna invite you to check out Safety Management Academy. This is my in-depth online

[00:18:00] course that not only teaches you the processes and strategies of an effective safety management program, but how to entwine management support, and employee participation throughout your processes.

Are you ready to finally understand exactly what you should be doing and ditch that safety police hat forever? Then you have got to join me and your fellow safety scholars over at Safety Management Academy. Just go to thesafetygeek.com/sma to learn more and to get started. That's thesafetygeek.com/sma and I will see you in our next students only live session.

Bye for now.

Highlights From This Episode:

  • What Core You Need to Know in order to Succeed
  • Safety Needs to be Included in Every Decision
  • Why Safety is One of the Most Important Departments
  • How to Grow Your Career and Become a Rockstar Safety Leader
  • Safety Managers are the Coaches of the Coaches

Links Mentioned:


Safety friends, I want you to remember always how important you are in the company. Because without you, businesses will not run smoothly and experience many accidents.

So, boost your confidence and show them that Safety is one of the most crucial departments and how fantastic you are.

And please leave a message below and give more tips and advice to your fellow safety leaders. Also, share this with your Safety BFFs!

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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.

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