Safety managers stand between their employees and risk, ensuring that workers can do their jobs and get home safely at the end of each and every day. As an essential part of any hazardous workplace, a safety manager handles all aspects of on-the-job safety, from ordering protective equipment to updating procedures.
As the safety industry continually evolves to create safer conditions for workers, safety managers keep a finger on the pulse of what is new and next for safety in their industries, and act as agents for positive change in their workplaces. Whether you're a seasoned safety manager or brand new to a safety career, there's always something new to learn.
Interested in joining the ranks of safety managers? Read on to learn more about this dynamic career.
One of the primary responsibilities of a safety manager is conducting risk assessments to identify potential hazards and determine proper safety measures to mitigate those risks. Risk assessments can look a little different depending on the industry and the work site: oil and gas safety managers may be more focused on fire safety, while utilities safety managers may place a greater emphasis on electrical safety.
Every successful safety program relies on a comprehensive risk assessment as the foundation. If you don’t know what risks your employees are facing in their work, you won’t be able to effectively protect them. And when a zero-incident safety culture is the goal, you can’t afford to leave any stone unturned in assessing risk.
Safety managers must know where incidents and injuries are most likely to occur and not only how to protect against them with physical guardrails like proper equipment, but also through effective communication strategies that bring everyone in the workplace on board with creating a culture of safety.
Multiple organizations regularly publish new and revised safety standards and regulations, such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), ASTM International, and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Not only do safety managers need to stay up to date with current and changing standards, but many managers also elect to get involved with standards writing by joining committees and subcommittees of these and other organizations related to their fields.
No matter how safety managers decide to stay up to date (and for more ideas on how to stay up to date, head to this post), they are responsible for knowing the standards that affect their workplace and disseminating that information to their teams—especially when something has changed.
A key component of any workplace safety strategy is proper equipment. Safety managers research, order, and maintain personal protective equipment (PPE), such as uniforms rated for protection against fire, electrical, and chemical risks. Manufacturers and distributors of PPE work closely with safety managers to determine what standards they need to meet and which products will be best suited to their safety program.
At TenCate Protective Fabrics, we spend significant time speaking to safety managers about their safety strategies from a holistic perspective, sharing our expertise in the safety industry to help them not only find the best FR garments for their workers but also think through how they will ensure compliance with safety procedures—including the proper wearing of those garments.
Manufacturers are constantly innovating, so approaching equipment acquisition and maintenance collaboratively with representatives throughout the value chain can help safety managers keep abreast of and leverage the latest technological advances in PPE. Manufacturers and distributors can help safety managers anticipate and navigate changing trends in safety—like the growing emphasis on crafting more comfortable FR garments, reflecting the safety industry’s understanding that workers are safer when they can compliantly wear protective equipment that feels more like streetwear (read 6 Ways to Improve FR Workwear Comfort).
A safety manager's goal is to eliminate incidents and injuries on the job, but when things do go awry, they are responsible for identifying what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again. Incidents are a huge source of frustration for safety managers, and almost every incident can be traced back to human error, not equipment failure, illustrating how integral effective communication is to a successful safety strategy.
Not only must safety managers create a protective environment with properly maintained equipment, but they must also craft and implement training protocols, quickly relay information around any changes, and foster an environment of open dialogue wherein employees feel empowered to share feedback about their work and safety concerns at any time.
The best safety managers know how valuable that feedback is, and from wear trials to regular safety trainings, encourage workers to help inform the next stage of their workplace's safety culture. Safety managers are the guides, but it takes the participation of every employee to ensure everyone's safety.
TenCate Protective Fabrics is dedicated to equipping safety professionals with the tools they need to succeed at keeping their workers safe on the job. Download our Global Industrial Safety Trends Report here or browse the rest of our articles for more information on the safety topics you care about.