Safety and OSHA News

Exclusive SNA poll: Top challenges for safety managers

We sent a survey to a national sample of safety managers asking them what their biggest challenge is. Was it employees, senior management or safety training?

The biggest challenge for safety managers was: employees. In fact, one out of three chose that as their answer.

The responses:

Of course, when you stop and think about it, the top result makes sense. When it comes right down to it, safety managers’ chief responsibility is to send employees home each day in the same condition that they came into work.

Combine the replies “employees” and “safety training” (because, after all, the training is for employees), and you have about half of all respondents.

Look at it another way, adding “employees” and “senior management,” and dealing with people is the top answer of slightly more than half.

We also asked the safety managers to rank each of those six areas on a scale of 1-to-10, with 1 being “not challenging,” and 10 being “most challenging.”

The results (the first number is the average rating, the second number is the percentage who gave the topic a 8, 9 or 10):

  • employees: 6.44, 40.6%
  • regulations: 5.65, 27.7%
  • safety training: 5.44, 28.3%
  • getting senior management to buy into safety: 4.91, 26.2%
  • developing the safety program: 4.90, 20.2%, and
  • keeping safety costs in check: 4.82, 17.3%.

“Employees” received the most ratings of “10.”

We’ll be reporting more results from our exclusive survey in the weeks ahead. Survey results will address topics from safety training to workers’ attitudes to OSHA proposals.

A total of 291 safety managers responded to the survey.

What’s your biggest challenge as a safety manager? Let us know in the comments.

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  1. These results come as no huge surprise. The Safety Manager role is typically a staff function or an “additional duty” assigned to a line manager, so the ability to create consequences for safety violations as well as rewards for desired behavior are usually pretty limited. I think the real trick is to create a safety culture in the organization, so working safely just comes automatically to people. This takes a lot of support from on top but more importantly it takes TIME to get people to see the world differently. Applause is due to anyone who takes their safety program seriously and has the patience to pull others into the fold! Long term accident numbers are improving, but it sure isn’t happening overnight! The better job industry can do on its own, the less “help” we need to suffer from government too….

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