I just returned from the Georgia Safety, Health and Environmental conference in Savannah, Georgia. I’ve been attending on and off for several years. It’s a great value in a great location. This year the organizers took a bold step and combined with the Georgia Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). I enjoyed talking to the Human Resource (HR) folks in attendance. It gave me a reason to reflect on the instances where I worked with HR over my professional safety career.
Safety professionals don’t naturally think of HR as an ally in our pursuit to reduce injuries. Often our first thoughts are of compliance and getting front-line employees to do what we want them to do. As a result, we miss an opportunity to build a key ally. Safety and HR overlap if not outright share common goals. Successful leaders recognize that accomplishing goals are much easier when you identify allies that support your goals.
Here are 3 areas where HR and Safety can join forces to meet a common goal:
Reward and Recognition – Recognition programs should include behaviors and accomplishments that support safety and health goals.
Employee Engagement – Safety offers several opportunities to engage employees from safety committees or project teams to conducting inspections.
New Hire Orientation – After the initial job interview, this is the second opportunity to espouse your regard for employee safety and health.
Some might add disciplinary action to the mix. I do not for a very good reason. When safety professionals get involved in disciplinary action for safety infractions, any trust we have built with front-line employees begins to erode.
The Georgia Safety, Health and Environmental conference is the only safety conference I know of that combines safety and HR. I hope they continue. I look forward to returning next year.
Have you partnered with Human Resources? Share your experience.