We have the advantage of dealing with several thousand employers, so we’ve seen all sorts of reporting relationships. The first decision is where safety fits in the organizational structure. (Here I’m talking about a large corporation with multiple workplaces; it’s obviously a lot easier in a small, single-workplace business.) There are basically three choices. Safety can be a department or area in its own right (perhaps combined with environment since many of the issues overlap), reporting directly to the CEO; safety can report through Production; or, safety can report through Human Resources. The first alternative is the best. It elevates safety to a high level and forces top management to deal with it directly. Reporting through production is next best. Since workplace hazards are created by the production process, and since solutions usually involve changes to equipment or procedures, the production people understand what we’re talking about. HR people know wages, benefits and legal issues around employment, but are less well informed about how products get made and services rendered. In general – and there are plenty of exceptions – a safety program designed around production will focus on finding and fixing hazards; a safety program designed around HR will involve a lot of posters, ineffective safety “incentives,” and campaigns designed to encourage people to just work safer around the same old hazards.
The next decision is whether the safety personnel in a particular plant report to managers in that plant or to the corporate safety organization. We think the later works better, although they certainly have to work closely with managers in the plant. Some organizations have a system where the plant-level safety personnel report within the plant, but are expected to send regular updates to the a corporate-level safety group, and to implement programs designed by the corporate safety group. The corporate safety group designs programs, monitors performance, and acts as a resource for the individual plants. Alcoa uses this system and it works pretty well.
As I understand it, you have a system where safety managers within a department in a single plant report only within that department. I can’t imagine it working very well.
Michael J. Wright
Director of Health, Safety and Environment
5 Gateway Center
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Work (412) 562-2580
Cell (412) 370-0105
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Visit us on the web at www.usw.org
Pat and Rhonda et al,
Based on very long experience dealing with "line" management:
- we as OEHS are perceived as a "cost center", not a "revenue center";
- as such, we are marginalized in their thinking;
- anything we want to do to promote safety and health is percieved as "off the bottom line";
THIS IS WRONG!
A simple exmple:
You comply with the OSHA Lock Out - Tag Out rule about exposed moving parts. You can respond it 2 ways:
"Management: Just have a lunchbox safety meeting and tell Bubba and Bill-Bob not to stick their hands in the gears."
"Reality: For whatever reason, with exposed gears, somebody will unwittingly stick their hand(s) in there."
"Safety Person (eg, you): Why not put a little box around the open gears and chains with a lock and proper precautions such that nobody can stick their hands in the gears and chains?"
"Management: That might cost money."
"Safety Person (you): It might cost a little for parts and labor to build the safety box around those gears and chains. What happens when Bubba or Bill-Bob inadvertently stick their hands in there? I don't like to ignore the pain and suffering because I am a physician, but put all that aside for a minute. There's workmans' comp issues, there's insurance issues, there's health insurance issues, and in some states such as Colorado there's likely to be a visit by the workers' comp industrial hygienist and if his/her recommendations are not quiuckly put into place, then the rates for this mandatory insurance increase somewhat dramatically. Besides all that, Bubba or Bill-Bob were doing their jobs, earning their wages, and now you have to go through all the expense to hire somebody(ies) new and train them, and they won't be as good as Biubba or Bill-Bob for months. Then, also, the machine one of them got tangled up in is out of production for a considerable period of time and whatever it was making, it isn't making it and you can sell what you don't make. That's why OEHS priciples and also chemical safety issues are NOT a cost center, they are a revenue center. Keeping production up and keeping preventable costs down increases the bottom line!" And, I do consider the issues of pain and suffering, especially if they can be prevented.
And, yes, yes, yes, and emphatically yes, all safety personnel should report to the same "line" manager, who perhaps can be pursuaded to think of safety as a
End of diatribe/lectrure.
Alan H. Hall, M.D.
Sometimes OEM Physician
Colorado School of Public Health
University of Colorado-Denver
Date: Fri, 7 Sep 2012 08:07:59 -0400
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Organization of Safety Personnel
Did you ever get any replies to this? I think you are very correct that having all the safety personnel reporting into different departments and reporting to non-safety personnel doesn't make a lot of sense. I have actually not heard of this type of organizational structure before. You've listed most of the reasons why it would be very challenging. In our organization our whole EHS team reports into one person (me). This enables us to have a coordinated safety program, encourage professional development, and oversee performance of our team in a knowledgeable way.
I obtained my CSP a while back, and I do think it would be good for you to pursue, even if you do have to pay for it yourself (I did at the time). Beyond the things I learned while preparing for it, It has definitely opened some doors for me. I know of at least one job that I held that I never would have gotten an interview for without it.
Hope this is a little helpful. Good luck!
On Mon, Aug 20, 2012 at 7:34 AM, Peifer, Patricia <Patricia.Peifer**At_Symbol_Here**westpharma.com> wrote:
I work in industry at my company’s headquarters (mid-size company). I have been working as a safety professional for four years… prior to that I was an analytical chemist.
I just wanted to ask others in an industrial setting if they could give me any information on how their company’s safety personnel are organized and who they report to. Does anyone work for a company that has their safety personnel in one department reporting to one senior safety professional?
The company I work for has all of our safety personnel reporting to someone different, and in all cases, not a safety professional. I have expressed concern over this within my company and they have indicated they will hear me out if I would like to suggest something different. I feel fortunate to work for such a company.
The structure now within my company does not allow for the safety personnel to learn new tasks, since the other safety personnel work for other departments and different departments generally don’t want their employees swapping tasks with other employees in other departments, even if the intent is to increase learning and acquire new skills. I also feel that my opportunities are limited by the fact that I do not report to a safety professional, and non-safety managers often do not really appreciate the work of the safety staff because we do not directly generate revenue. Additionally, non-safety management does not always even know if a safety person is doing a good job.
I am interested in obtaining the CSP certification, because I feel it is becoming more and more an expectation of high quality employers, but I don’t think the management above me knows anything about it. I will most likely have to pay for it myself, along with any other training I want that is not required by a regulatory agency. They would prefer to sink any training money they have into people who are doing the actual lab testing and who generate revenue. I paid for my CHO exam myself.
Just wanted to see what others have to say about this, and if they are in the same situation, how they deal with these issues. Perhaps someone knows of some good references as well, where I could study this further.
Pat Peifer, CCHO
Safety and Chemical Hygiene Specialist
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