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The Art of Safety – Safety Leadership and Culture Change

My professional and personal development plan includes attending at least one national conference and one regional conference every year. I attended Safety 2018 in San Antonio and the Georgia SHE conference in Savannah last year. I always come away more energized because I expand my technical knowledge, I get to hang out with like-minded safety leaders, met new people and renew old acquaintances.

I was recently facilitating a pre-certification workshop for the Associate Safety Professional (ASP) certification. It occurred to me that there are two sides to safety and health management that are equally important. The first is the technical side. For example; calculating sling loads or noise attenuation levels, or knowing which chemicals don’t mix well. Being well versed on the technical side is important for a couple of reasons. Not only will it help my workshop attendees pass the ASP and CSP certification exams, but even more important it establishes our credibility as a safety and health professional within our company, the industry and within our own profession. The other side is the art of safety. It’s the soft skills including communication, speaking and presentation skills, and influencing without authority. These are the skills that help us influence change and ultimately impact the business and safety culture.

Too often we find ourselves (me included) sharpening our technical skills and neglecting our soft skills. Maybe it’s because we assume we’ll just pick those up as we go. If we want to impact the business and the safety culture, we need to influence others from upper management and the CEO to the front line employee. In order to influence others, we need both the technical and soft skills. So the next time you plan to attend a conference or workshop, or even reading a book, think about sharpening those soft skills.

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