Safety Leadership - The Two Sides of Safety

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March 14, 2023
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Patrick J. Karol,

I recently facilitated a pre-certification workshop for the Associate Safety Professional (ASP) certification. It occurred to me that there are two sides to safety and health management that are equally important. The first is the technical side. For example, calculating sling loads or noise attenuation levels or knowing which chemicals don’t mix well. Being well-versed on the technical side is essential for a couple of reasons. It will help my workshop attendees pass the ASP and CSP certification exams. More importantly, it will establish our credibility as safety and health professionals within our company, the industry, and the profession. The other side is the art of safety. Soft skills include communication, speaking and presentation skills, and influencing without authority. These skills help us affect change and ultimately impact the business and safety culture.

Too often, we find ourselves (myself included) sharpening our technical skills and neglecting our soft skills. Maybe it’s because we assume we’ll pick those up as we go. If we want to impact the business and the culture, we need to influence others, from upper management and the CEO to the front-line employee. To influence others, we need both technical and soft skills. So the next time you plan to attend a conference or workshop or read a book, think about sharpening those soft skills.

Combining technical skills and a CSP certification establishes our credibility. It opens doors to conversations and opportunities, but soft skills allow us to influence without authority.