Defining Roles of Each Position in a Safety Culture
One of the keys in determining the safety roles of individuals is to determine the following:
- What role do you want each position or group to play in your management system?
- What level of authority will the person holding these positions need to accomplish the goals and objectives?
While authority is built into managerial and supervisory roles and responsibilities, you may want to make changes as they relate to your management system. This can be accomplished by:
- Clearly stating the scope of authority by indicating supervisory relationships
- Establishing a budget that the position can use
- Any other measures that describe what a person in this position can do without obtaining further approval
At this stage, do not attempt to describe each job’s specific tasks in detail. This is suggested wording for job descriptions, which of these responsibilities fit into your safety program and at what authority level and specific positions in your business should these responsibilities be assigned? The following are some examples of some assigned safety roles for each category:
- Top managements establish and provide the leadership and resources for carrying out the stated company safety policy.
- Managers and Supervisors help to maintain safe working conditions in their respective area of responsibilities.
- Employees exercise care in the course of their work to prevent injuries to themselves and their coworkers.
- Visitors, vendors, customers, and contractors comply with all safety requirements and/policies and procedures while at the workplace
- Engineering helps to make sure that all equipment that could affect the safety of employees is selected, installed, and maintained in a manner that eliminates or controls potential hazards
- Purchasing (sometimes called procurement) helps to make sure that safety equipment and materials are purchased in a timely manner, new materials, parts, and equipment are analyzed for potential hazards so that preventive measures or controls can be implemented; and that such materials, parts, and equipment are obtained in accordance with all applicable safety requirements
- Safety Professionals help in assessing safety issues by working with management to resolve identified problems. In addition, the safety professional is a consultant to management.
Now that you have determined who should participate in your safety program, you need to develop written statements that specify what each position must do to help meet any stated goals and objectives.
When developing responsibilities for non-supervisory employees, be careful and do not confuse these responsibilities with specific work rules and safe work practices. A brief, general statement about the employee’s responsibility to understand and follow rules and safe work practices is more appropriate.
You should assign the details for carrying out your management system to the same individual who are responsible for plant operations, the office environment, production, and other areas that should be included. In this way, you build safety into the management structure as firmly as the production environment. Be sure that each assigned responsibility comes with the authority and resources needed to fulfill the requirements.
After you have developed the safety responsibilities and specific-specific activities for each position, you must then communicate your requirement to all employees. You may find it useful to combine all these written statements of safety responsibility into one document. Then post it or circulate it to all employees involved. Discuss the job descriptions and responsibilities in one-on-one, face-to-face, meetings with all employees who will be responsible for carrying out the safety responsibilities. Keep a copy of this document and always refer to it when meeting with employees, no matter if you are in a general meeting or performance reviews.
Many managers can be perceived as risk-takers, willing to put their business against others in a competitive world. However, there is one gamble that is a true loss for management to consider: a gamble on safety and the risk of incidents that cause injuries to employees or damage to company property.
To reduce risks effectively, you must address safety along with production, quality control, and costs. To accomplish this task you must set specific goals and objective to provide a service or produce a quality product efficiently without an injury. Too often, that is seen as something to be considered as time permits, over and above regular business activities.
For your management system to be successful, you need to assign responsibility to specific positions, departments, and staff levels in your organization. The following steps can help you to make sure that your safety program elements are communicated properly:
- Review your current structure. Understand what you want it look like
- Determine what part each job position should have in the safety program
- Determine what authority and resources are necessary to carry out these roles and responsibilities
- Determine and assign safety responsibilities, and write responsibilities into each employees job description
- Communicate with all employees by discussing the responsibilities and authority in face-to-face meetings.