About Safety Leadership | UNB

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College of Extended Learning

About safety leadership

What is safety leadership?

A safety leader is somebody who not only exhibits personal safety behaviors, but inspires others to do the same. These are people who not only follow safety protocols to the letter, but speak up in a constructive way when they see that others could be doing something in a safer manner.

Who can be a safety leader?

Anybody who demonstrates these behaviors:

  • Understanding and following safety procedures
  • Reporting safety issues when they arise
  • Proactively preventing safety issues
  • Implementing new processes to improve safety
  • Encouraging others to take safety seriously

Safety leaders don't necessarily have to be managers or supervisors. It can be anybody who has positive social influence over their peers and an interest in improving safety across the organization. It's important to note that a safety leader should be less like a hall monitor and more like a cultural influencer. The best safety leaders are the people who help their peers improve without them even realizing it's happening. They are the people on the team who others come to for advice about best practices because they know they'll get a response that is both correct and useful.

What's the difference between safety leaders and safety managers?

Safety leaders are the team leads that others rely upon, to consistently meet the safety goals of the organization. Whereas, safety managers are part of the organizational hierarchy and have defined responsibilities for their segment of the business to include the standard supervisor role with respect to subordinates.

How do I cultivate safety leaders in my organization?

Follow these steps to develop the safety leaders in your organization:

Identify the Naturals

Some employees are naturally inclined toward safety leadership. Look for the employees who have the best safety records and observe how they interact with their peers. They might provide gentle reminders to wear safety gear or offer advice about safer ways to do specific procedures.

Invite Ideas

When you have identified potential safety leaders, encourage them to share and implement their ideas. These are the types of people that are willing to take on extra work if it contributes to a safer environment, so tap into that engagement to make improvements across the organization.

Provide Training

Provide your safety leaders with development opportunities so they can learn even more ways to engage their coworkers about safety.

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