Safety Director or Manager

Is important when managing a company's occupational safety and health (OSH) initiative that someone should be designated as the overseer and responsible party of safety and health. The individual is usually designated as safety manager or director. This individual must both be experienced and have an understanding of the specific hazards that exist in the company's workplace(s). This individual may also be called the safety coordinator or person. No matter the title, his/her responsibilities are varied and wide ranging. Some possible performance expectations may be as follows:

  • 1. Establishing programs for detecting, correcting, or controlling hazardous conditions, toxic environments, and health hazards.
  • 2. Ensuring that proper safeguards and personal protective equipment are available, properly maintained, and properly used.
  • 3. Establishing safety procedures for employees, plant design, plant layout, vendors, outside contractors, and visitors.
  • 4. Establishing safety procedures for purchasing and installation of new equipment and for the purchase and safe storage of hazardous materials.
  • 5. Maintaining an accident recording system to measure the organization's safety performance.
  • 6. Staying abreast of, and advising management on, the current federal, state, and local laws, codes, and standards related to safety and health in the workplace.
  • 7. Carrying out the company's safety obligations as required by law and/or union contract.
  • 8. Conducting investigations of accidents, near misses, and property damage and preparing reports with recommended corrective action.
  • 9. Conducting safety training for all levels of management and newly hired and current employees.
  • 10. Assisting in the formation of both a management and a union/management safety committee (department heads and superintendents) and attending monthly departmental safety committee meetings.
  • 11. Keeping informed on the latest developments in the field of safety such as personal protective equipment, new safety standards, workers' compensation legislation, and new literature pertaining to safety, as well as attending safety seminars and conventions.
  • 12. Maintaining liaison with national, state, and local safety organizations and taking an active role in the activities of such groups.
  • 13. Accompanying Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compliance officers during plant inspections and insurance safety professional on audits and plant surveys. The safety engineer further reviews reports related to these activities and, with management, initiates action for necessary corrections.
  • 14. Distributing the organization's statement of policy as outlined in its organizational manual.

If some facets of the safety effort are not going well, this individual will usually be held accountable even though he/she may not have the authority to rectify the existing problem. Usually, the safety person has a staff position that seldom allows him/her to interfere in any way with the line function of production. Without some authority to impact line functions when necessary, the safety director or manager has little clout as to worksite implementation of the company's safety and health effort. Accountability and responsibility must go beyond this individual. Dan Petersen, noted safety expert, has espoused that what is desired is "safe production," which intimates that the production personnel should be held accountable and responsible for the safe performance of their duties, which includes safety and health.

Further Readings

Petersen, D. Techniques of Safety Management: A Systems Approach (Third Edition). Goshen, NY: Aloray Inc., 1989.

Reese, C.D. Office Building Safety and Health. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2004.

Reese, C.D. Handbook of Safety and Health for the Service Industry: Volume 1, Industrial Safety and Health for People-Oriented Services. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press/Taylor & Francis Group, 2009.

Reese, C.D. Accident/Incident Prevention Techniques (Second Edition). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press/ Taylor & Francis Group, 2012.

Reese, C.D. Occupational Health and Safety: A Practical Approach (Third Edition). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press/Taylor & Francis Group, 2016.

Reese, C.D. and J.V. Eidson. Handbook of OSHA Construction Safety & Health (Second Edition). Boca Raton, FL: CRC/Taylor & Francis, 2006.

 
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