Technical knowledge and qualifications are undoubted prerequisites for any Health and Safety professional. However, these alone are no longer enough for a successful career. To deliver real value, people and business skills are now essential.
In times gone by, it could be argued that pointing out safety breaches and contraventions of the protocol were all you’d be noted for. But in the modern workplace, the following attributes are crucial.
1. The Power of Persuasion and Influence
We’ve all been there: a mind-numbing day spent away from your desk staring at a seemingly endless Powerpoint presentation, as slide after slide of common sense washes over you.
If you’re a health and safety professional, you want your employees to be engaged. By being persuasive, you’ll get your message across much more effectively. For example, explaining the impacts of health and safety issues on profits to senior employees and stakeholders can be a powerful form of persuasion.
Don’t just tell people what to do, explain why they should do it, and how it benefits them and those around them. That’s how you can influence change.
2. Commercial Acumen is Key
An accident in the workplace doesn’t just have an impact on those involved. The ripples caused can have a detrimental effect on the entire business. Whether it’s a compensation payout or a fine for breaching safety guidelines, the financial hit can be massive for many companies.
Indeed, in 2017/18, companies were fined a combined £72.6 millionfor health and safety breaches - an average of £147,000 per successfully prosecuted company. Astute health and safety professional should consider this commercial impact, and use this awareness to spread the message.
3. Be Able to Listen as Well as Advise
Nobody should work feeling as though they’re in danger. Nor should they feel their health and safety concerns are laughed off or ignored.
Employees are the ones who know the work inside out. So it’s vital that you’re able to take on board their views, concerns and feedback. They’ll come into contact with risks on a daily basis, so, as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)suggests: “involving them in making decisions shows them that you take their health and safety seriously.”
4. Be Passionate About Your Attention to Detail
Offering advice and information on health and safety in the workplace is one thing, but putting it into practice is another. It’s important that initiatives are seen through to fulfilment, with workers given safe working spaces, and equipment that’s maintained effectively.
In October 2018, timber firm Ashwell Recycled Timber Products Limited was fined for failure to maintain safety guards on its machinery, exposing workers to the risk of potentially serious injuries. This was despite the company having been warned previously, showing the necessity for health and safety attention to detail.
5. Know How to Build Strong Relationships
Successful workplaces are built on strong relationships, and that’s no different when it comes to ensuring a safe working environment.
You’re more likely to be able to do your job effectively if you have the backing of others. If you have the skills mentioned above, you’re on a solid footing to having these strong relationships. Being able to listen, identify areas for improvement, understand their impact, and have great attention to detail are all key in relationship-building.
This comes to fruition when you’re able to use your powers of persuasion and rally a team to make the workplace a healthier and safer place to be.
Ready to Take The Next Step in Your Career?
There’s more to the modern health and safety professional than just health and safety knowledge. If you’re looking for a new opportunity, demonstrating the above skills will help you on the way to securing a fresh role.