Bob Lapidus, CSP, CSMS
What do you mean, stick to safety? For those of you who are safety specialists for your organizations, management expects you to stick to what you have been hired to do. Whether you are an internal safety person or an external safety consultant, you have been brought in to provide advisory support on the subject safety.
Well, of course, isn’t that what everyone does?
Not always. Some safety people slip into giving advice beyond safety. A common topic is telling managers and supervisors how to manage their organizations. A friend and colleague of mine, a safety management consultant, did an audit of a manufacturing operation. He saw that top management was not managing the firm to get the most out of its employees and assets. In his report, he not only covered what needed to be done to enhance the safety effort, but he also gave suggestions for improving how management should oversee the organization which would help the safety program too.
He was invited to present his recommendations at a meeting of the organization’s board of directors. When he started talking about his suggestions for improving management in general, my friend was literally asked to leave. Management had hired him to do a safety management audit, not a management audit. They were offended that he would presume that he had the right to tell them how to run their organization.
We don’t have the right to tell our managers how to run their organizations. Our mission is to help management prevent losses, reduce the severity of those losses that occur, and comply with applicable standards. We may use management techniques to achieve these results, but they must tie directly into our safety efforts and not how to manage the overall organization.
I have been tempted to help managers and supervisors improve their managerial skills, but I always knew that I had to integrate such suggestions into the safety effort, not the general management of the organization.
As safety people, we see things we believe should be accomplished differently, but we truly need to know our place and stick to safety, the reason we are there, unless directly asked otherwise.
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After completing this nine-day program, graduates may take the exam to achieve the Certified Safety Management Specialist (CSMS) designation. Recipients of the CSMS receive a beautiful plaque and become part of an elite group of safety specialists who have achieved this recognition. Once this certification is attained, successful candidates keep it for the rest of their lives without any additional requirements or fees.