Success in Safety

Have you ever finished a facility inspection, handed the report to the director or site manager, and said, “Well, it was close…but now you and the employees here are safe!”?

Probably not.

Unlike sales, operations, marketing, finance, and nearly every other field, safety is not done. While sales can be closed, safety remains open. While operations can produce 500 widgets, safety can only hold their breath and knock on wood. While marketing can speed time to market and applaud over 2 million clicks, safety searches for the gaps in the training and risk in the speed. And finance can feel good about their annual report, ready for third-party audit, while safety’s annual report means nothing with the next recordable injury.

So how does the safety professional feel success in their career?

People have offered, “Just look at all the things that didn’t happen!” I don’t know about you, but that’s like pretending to see a remote Hawaiian beach from Omaha, Nebraska and telling yourself it’s the same thing as being there.

Lea McLeod, a writer for The Muse, offers three suggestions for finding success in your work. (modified below for EHS pros)

  1. Measure the percent of time you spend on your three critical priorities. Place two columns on a piece of paper. Write your three priorities on the left and, throughout the day, track how much time you spend in each. If there’s a gap between the time you spend on priorities and the time spent elsewhere, you should question your impact (and success).
  2. Measure percent of effective communication. Is what you’re saying getting through? Is your training working? Is it tailored to your audience and demographics or just copy/pasted into this month’s safety poster? Some safety pros don’t think that anyone listens to them…but are we listening to our audience?
  3. Measure actions you’ve taken to nurture relationships. The best safety pros have the best relationships. No one cares what your policy says, what the 1910 or 1926 paragraph says, or what ANSI even stands for…but everyone will bend over backwards for those that show concern for them…for those they care about. Are you meeting new people, building relationships across your organization, and showing others how much you care (because they don’t care how much you know)?

Most people with long careers in EHS figure this out. But I’ve seen many, many new safety professionals struggle for years with the idea of success in safety and some even give up on happiness in their work. Share your success with someone today!

For the reader who inspired this post from a Facebook message, please send me an email with your address at I’d like to send you something. Thank you!

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