Safety observers play a critical role in ensuring the safety of workers in various industries. They are responsible for identifying hazards, evaluating risks, and recommending measures to prevent accidents and injuries. To improve safety inspector performance, it is essential to provide them with the right tools, training, and resources. Here are 7 simple strategies that organizations can use to improve safety inspector performance:
- Define the role of safety observer: Before assigning safety observers to a job, it is important to define their roles and responsibilities. This should include a clear description of the duties and expectations of the inspector, as well as the standards and protocols that they are expected to follow. This will help the inspector understand how to complete their work, what success looks like for that role, and the active part they take in ensuring safety at their organization.
- Provide comprehensive training: Safety observers should receive comprehensive training that covers the technical aspects of their job and the communication skills necessary to effectively share their findings with others. This training should cover the specific hazards and risks present in the workplace, the relevant safety regulations and standards, and the protocols for evaluating and mitigating risks. This training should also address soft skills, as it is necessary for those undertaking cooperative roles to have strengths in the realms of communication, teamwork, and problem-solving.
- Encourage active participation: Safety observers should be encouraged to actively participate in safety audits, inspections, and investigations. This will help them gain a better understanding of the hazards and risks present in the workplace and identify areas for improvement. This is the step where the importance of communications skills most comes into play, as these are essential to the observers’ ability to share their findings with management and employees and provide recommendations for changes. Without the ability to successfully convey plans for future improvements, these efforts will be ineffectual.
- Give feedback and support: Safety observers should receive regular feedback on their performance. This feedback should be practical, constructive, and focused on specific areas where they can improve. It is also important to provide them with the necessary support and resources to improve their performance, such as access to training, equipment, and tools.
- Utilize technological advancements: Technology can be a powerful tool to improve a safety inspector’s performance. Mobile applications, for one practical example, can help observers to more readily collect and analyze data, communicate their findings, and access relevant information in real-time. This functionality streamlines the inspection process, improving accuracy and increasing efficiency.
- Reinforce continuous learning: Safety observers should be given opportunities to develop professionally through ongoing education. This can entail attending external safety training, workshops, and other relevant educational events to enhance both their recognition of hazards and communication abilities. Continually learning will help inspectors improve their skills and knowledgeability by keeping up-to-date on the latest safety regulations, technologies, and best practices.
- Lead by example: For safety observers to excel in their work, the surrounding culture and work environment needs to value safety and display this by enabling employees to take an active role in maintaining a safe workplace. In short, don’t shoot the messenger! To foster an environment where employees are motivated to report potential or immediate hazards and risks and provide feedback without fear of reprisal, leaders should be modeling the behavior they want to see, asking questions to build relationships with workers, and only reprimanding workers in cases of verifiable negligence or abuse.
Improving safety inspector performance requires an approach that incorporates all 7 of these steps. Organizations that invest time and resources into their inspectors can benefit from a safer workplace, reduced accidents and injuries, improved productivity, and a positive reputation. By taking these steps, organizations can display that safety is a priority and ensure that safety observers have the means to perform their jobs with excellence.
Cary comes to the SafetyStratus team as the Vice President of Operations with almost 30 years of experience in several different industries. He began his career in the United States Navy’s nuclear power program. From there he transitioned into the public sector as an Environmental, Health & Safety Manager in the utility industry. After almost thirteen years, he transitioned into the construction sector as a Safety Director at a large, international construction company. Most recently he held the position of Manager of Professional Services at a safety software company, overseeing the customer success, implementation, and process consulting aspects of the services team.
At SafetyStratus, he is focused on helping achieve the company’s vision of “Saving lives and the environment by successfully integrating knowledgeable people, sustainable processes, and unparalleled technology”.