Safety personnel and their duties


The personnel to be recommended for selection of the safety functions should be as for any other job and must qualify for a number of minimum requirements if they are expected to do this work successfully. This work is not easy. The safety man has to inspect, teach, propose changes and guide investigations. In short he has to do a lot of things which by their very nature are apt to provoke resentment in others as he is poking his nose into their business. And this is valid for the whole range of safety personnel from Department Head to Junior Safety Supervisor.

We can thus conclude that the man must have personality which combines perseverance with the gift to compromise when this is not to the detriment of safety. He must have ideas, enthusiasm and an ability to “sell� safety, but, also, he must be responsible and ready to give advice so that he will avoid being considered “The Secret Police.�

With regard to his education and background, it is generally appreciated that he should have a technical upbringing and experience in factories. Better and faster results are expected by giving specialized safety training to an experienced man of the right personality out of the same company than trying to add experience to a total outsider who has not lived with the company.

The safety man of the future should at least be an engineering graduate with sufficient knowledge, both spoken and written, of the local language. He must be able to preside over meetings or act as secretary to meetings. Besides that, knowledge of English would be very welcome. Finally do not choose a man who has no ability to write a comprehensive report or keep records.

The special training that should be given to the candidate for safety work comprises, in the first instance, of the basic techniques to promote safety and prevent accidents. There are several books and courses available by now to achieve this, some treating general aspects, others going into great detail of specialized applications.

Equally important, with the training, with the training techniques, however, is the use of visual aids and how to prepare them, the use of statistics and the factories’ Act as well as various Safety Codes.

Duties of Safety personnel

The foregoing discussion of the safety program brings us, in logical sequence, to the duties of the safety personnel.

Theirs is a staff responsibility. They advice and assist the entire operations, but do not operate themselves. A survey done in America indicated that in some 300 industrial enterprises, the Safety Supervisor functions in an advisory capacity in 90% of the cases. There is however, a recent trend in large enterprises of an intricate structure whereby safety becomes both a staff and a line function; a person co-ordinates the program enterprise-wise (a “Safety Director� or “Safety Manager�) with specialists (Safety Supervisors, Safety Engineers) allocated to the actual operating force.

Very much in line with what we have seen as typical safety functions for the works supervisor, we can define the duties of the Safety Personnel as:

1. Set up, develop and administer the Safety Program.
2. Establish safe practices.
3. Study accident causes.
4. Investigate accidents.
5. Train supervisors.
6. Initiate corrective action.
7. Inspect.
8. Develop safety rules.
9. Study accidents trends and keep accident records.
10. Initiate safety meetings.
11. Arrange safety meetings.

As already indicated before, many of these duties require the assistance or even guidance from experts whose combined experiences and knowledge cannot possibly be expected to be found in any one Safety officer.

The study of accident causes and the investigation will, in particular cases, ask for much specialized knowledge. Likewise, the development of safety rules and the establishment of safe practices require intimate contact with people who are fully conversant with every angle of the operation under consideration.

The training of Supervisors is high on the list of duties of Safety personnel and it is through the Supervisors that safety has to be spread.

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