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5 Workplace Safety Skills


Introduction

Every safety professional needs to possess a certain set of skills over and above an academic health and safety certification, compliance knowledge and recognised accreditation. Possessing the requisite technical knowledge without the ability to translate that into daily conversation will greatly hinder your ability to minimise workspace hazards. These are some of the most common skills a safety officer should seek to acquire and improve upon to be more effective in the role:



People Skills

The most important part of handling safety issues is pre-empting them. Along with being able to identify hazards themselves through their own inspections and investigations, a good safety officer should be able to offer people the opportunity to speak up and the ability to empower the team members on issues regarding their workspace and personal safety. He or she needs to be able to motivate the employees regarding their personal safety and to listen in on their observations and worries.



Proper Writing Skills

A health and safety officer will be required to produce memos, cautions, safety manuals and regular communication to stakeholders both within and outside of the workspace. Proper writing skills are a must have therefore, considering that the cost of miscommunication on safety issues is potentially catastrophic.



Business Knowledge

The best safety managers understand how the safety of the workspace impacts the company's bottom line and they can easily articulate the commercial cost of damages. They also know how the safety costs and conversations fit in with the other areas of the business. Safety is one of the aspects of a business unit that liaises with just about every other office and being able to articulate the link between the safety office and the other department is a valuable skill.

It can be enormously tempting for senior managers and directors in some workplaces to override and instruct staff to ignore health and safety measures in order to increase profits. This can be especially tempting during times of struggle when the company is finding it difficult to make ends meet. A health and safety officer with business knowledge will be able to point out that aside from being illegal, the potential financial costs to the company which can result from a health and safety incident or accident taking place on the premises.

Potential financial penalties include:

  • Fines from authorities
  • Compensation claims
  • Payment of statutory sick pay
  • Recruitment costs for a temporary replacement (or permanent one in serious cases where the person is never able to return to work)
  • Training this new recruit
  • The loss of production whilst the new person is trained and brought fully up to speed
  • Accident investigation expenditure

The list of potential costs is extremely long, which means aside from the moral responsibilities, firms should be keen to prevent harm coming to their employees for financial reasons too.



Safety Conversation Skills

As a safety officer you should be able to communicate complex safety procedures and plans in a way that non-professionals can understand and comply. You should be able to relay safety information in such a way that it fosters safety discussions within the team in a non-threatening manner. Never make people feel stupid or ignorant when they don't understand the safety knowledge being imparted and require clarification or further explanation. The team should always feel empowered by the forums and meetings held regarding workplace safety.



Proper Record Keeping

Some safety issues tend to be seasonal while others tend to happen frequently and in certain moments. A properly trained safety manager should be able to keep up-to-date records on the company's safety policy. This will help him or her to produce well informed quarterly and annual records on hazard incidences as well as figure out the most common risks, their place of occurrence and their level of impact.

Proper record keeping will not only be necessary for any accident investigations or inspections from the authorities, but it can also identify patterns which highlight dangers and hazards which were not previously noticed. For example, if the entries in an accident book all seem to relate to a particular piece of machinery, additional safety and protective features may need to be installed.




Selected Courses

Please see below for a selection of health and safety courses and qualifications which you may be interested in:

NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety is the flagship NEBOSH qualification, and is the first UK vocational qualification to be developed specifically for health and safety professionals.

The NEBOSH National Diploma provides the core health and safety knowledge (transferable across industry, commerce and the public sector) which, combined with understanding and appropriate application, underpins the competent performance of an occupational health and safety practitioner.

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NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH General Certificate is one of the most popular and widely-held health and safety qualifications in the UK. It is intended to be taken by managers, supervisors and any other employees who require an understanding of general health and safety issues.

The NEBOSH General Certificate covers the main legal requirements for health and safety in the UK, along with the identification and control of workplace hazards, and the practical application of this knowledge. The general content of the NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus means it is suitable and relevant for those working in virtually any industry, and is often used as a solid foundation for those going on to further study and specialising in a particular area such as construction site health and safety or fire safety.

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IOSH Managing Safely Course

The IOSH Managing Safely course is designed for managers and supervisors of organisations in virtually all industry sectors, in order to give them all they need to know to effectively manage health and safety in the workplace.

Recently updated, the new high impact programme covers key health and safety issues, and includes references to international case studies.

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CITB Site Management SMSTS Course

The Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) is one of the most popular health and safety training courses, and is intended for construction site managers, project managers and senior supervisors, as well as proprietors of smaller companies.

Client-based personnel would also benefit from attending the SMSTS course.

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CITB Health and Safety Awareness Course

This course is for those who have entered, or are about to enter, the construction and civil engineering industry as a member of the workforce to help them understand the potential hazards that they face at work on site. It aims to provide a practical summary of health and safety, welfare and environmental health and safety issues.

The course also allows delegates to identify their individual responsibilities for looking after themselves and others, what the employer's duties are and what should be done if they think anyone's health and safety is being put at risk.

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