Why Every Business Needs to Consider Getting a Safety Officer

  • Mark Edwards ·
  • April 10, 2024

There is no doubt about it that every year, more professional skills are being pushed not only towards companies who need to have these skills but to team members who should ideally pick up on these skills. There are just some skill sets that do make all the difference, such as taking up CPR classes in case an unexpected emergency were to happen (something that’s also perfect as a personal skill). 

But with that said, sometimes, as a business owner, it’s not just about thinking about those “nice to have” skills from your team. Sometimes, there are some things that need to be done. For example, a safety officer.

For the average person, when they think of a safety officer, they think this profession is only needed for high-risk businesses such as engineering, construction, firefighters, electricians, factory workers, industries, and jobs like that. But you need to keep in mind that danger can technically happen anywhere at any time to anyone.

Even if your business is just in a cushy office, you can still expect that something could potentially happen. So that’s why having at least one team member, even you, be a safety officer is needed. Besides, depending on where you live and what industry you’re in, there might even be a regulation about it. With all of that said, here’s why your business and every other business should consider getting a safety officer or becoming one!

What are the Benefits of Getting a Safety Officer?

Whether it’s a bustling tech startup, a traditional manufacturing plant, or a cozy neighborhood cafe, every business, regardless of its size or sector, needs to prioritize the well-being of its employees. As mentioned above, this is needed because accidents can happen at any time. So having someone on the team who knows what to do without being in a panic is key. But what exactly are the benefits of this?

Creating a Culture of Safety

There’s one thing that you really need to keep in mind: this isn’t only about formalities. Having a dedicated Safety Officer on staff goes beyond mere compliance with regulations; it fosters a culture of safety within the organization. This culture permeates every aspect of the business, from the shop floor to the boardroom. On top of that, you can count on your employees feeling valued when they know their employer prioritizes their safety, leading to increased morale, productivity, and loyalty. 

Honestly, COVID-19 finally sheds some light on the fact that if employers don’t care about employee safety, then they’re going to quit and find an employer that actually cares. They want to feel safe; their job is not as important as their life- and their employer’s goals and visions are not nearly as important as their life. So that’s something you need to consider, especially if you’re thinking that a Safety Office is a waste of time and money. 

Mitigating Risks

The last thing that any business wants would be to face significant risks and liabilities associated with workplace accidents and injuries. It kills your reputation and could even kill your business. It’s hard to bounce back from that. This is why a Safety Officer plays a pivotal role in identifying potential hazards, implementing preventive measures, and conducting regular safety inspections. 

They’re the ones addressing risks, and it’s far easier for businesses to mitigate costly legal battles, insurance claims, and beyond if they have an officer on staff. From a legal standpoint, you’re saving your business. 

There Might Be Regulations

 A great example of this would be OSHA in the US, as certain industries need to follow the regulations that OSHA sets. So, it does vary from location to location, and these requirements are from industry-specific protocols, too. But regardless, compliance is not just about avoiding fines; it’s about safeguarding the well-being of employees.

An Emergency Could Happen Anytime

Disasters, both natural and man-made, can strike at any moment—they’re terrifying, but it’s reality. No matter the emergency, whether it be someone going into cardiac arrest, a small fire, or even a natural disaster, there can’t be panic because this only makes the situation worse. This is why businesses need to be prepared to respond swiftly and effectively (because lives can be on the line). 

Usually, as a safety officer develops a comprehensive emergency response plan, they’re the ones conducting drills and training employees to handle crises with confidence. Basically, they’re the ones making all the difference between chaos and controlled response.

Great Way to Promote Employee Health and Wellness

Generally speaking, employee wellness extends beyond physical safety; it encompasses mental and emotional well-being as well. You can pretty much count on a Safety Officer to champion initiatives aimed at promoting a healthy work-life balance, stress management, and mental health awareness. While CEOs and owners pretty much count on their employees to be superhumans, a safety office knows that it’s pretty much not possible (like making an employee stay late, only to have them on the next shift with very few hours of sleep). 

So, basically, they foster a supportive environment where businesses can reduce absenteeism, turnover rates, and healthcare costs while enhancing overall productivity and employee satisfaction.

Investing in the Future

It’s not just about a competitive edge; this can be seen as an investment for the future in multiple aspects. As mentioned earlier, prospective employees are increasingly scrutinizing employers’ commitment to workplace wellness before joining their ranks. So having one is pretty much proving that there is dedication to safety. 

What Can You Do for Onboarding a Safety Officer?

So there are two routes: you can either hire someone who has the experience or training, or you can select an employee to get that training (and whatever certifications are needed) for a position like this. Usually, this position goes on top of the other position someone had. For example, if you’re a business owner, you already have those duties, but you’d get the training and paperwork needed for this position, and it supplements it. 

Usually, someone gets paid more for this position (because it’s one person with two positions), so that’s something to think about, too.  But regardless, there’s still a process that has to be done. So here’s what you need to know about this. 

What Qualifications and Experience Do You Want?

Remember that the role of a Safety Officer can vary widely depending on the nature of the business. So, you’ll need to outline the qualifications and experience necessary for the role in your organization. While specific requirements may vary, common qualifications include a degree in occupational health and safety, certifications such as OSHA 30-hour General Industry, and relevant experience in a similar role or industry. 

But again, it varies by country and industry. Sometimes, it can be as simple as getting one of your employees to take a few weekend classes; sometimes, it can require a degree and relevant experience—not always, but sometimes. 

Do You Want to Hire, or Do You Want to Get an Employee to Take the Role?

Searching, hiring, and onboarding can take a lot of time—maybe too much time—so that’s something to consider. So it might be a good idea to get an employee to do this if they’re willing, but depending on your business, it might be helpful to have someone do this ASAP (and sometimes that means hiring). So these are things to just think about. 

You Still Might Need to Provide Training and Support

Once the Safety Officer is onboarded, provide comprehensive training to familiarize them with your organization’s operations, safety protocols, and relevant regulations. Then, start offering ongoing support and resources to enable them to fulfill their duties effectively. It’s ideal to encourage collaboration with other departments and stakeholders to foster a culture of safety throughout the organization.

Evaluate and Iterate

Overall, continuous improvement is definitely key to maintaining a safe work environment! So you’re going to wan to just regularly evaluate the effectiveness of your safety initiatives and solicit feedback from employees and stakeholders. Plus, this means that you’ll want to just identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments to your safety programs and procedures. In general, just by embracing a culture of learning and adaptation, you can ensure that your Safety Officer remains at the forefront of safeguarding your business and its most valuable asset – its people.

Is a Safety Officer Necessary for All Businesses?

It was already stated earlier that even for desk jobs, this could be a good idea. While workplace safety is paramount in virtually all industries, the need for a dedicated safety officer just may vary depending on the size, nature, and complexity of the business operations. Just think about it like this: In some cases, there are low-risk environments. Even those operating within highly regulated industries may not require a full-time Safety Officer on staff (but again, you can hire or train an employee, so it’s a supplemental position). 

But in general, having one does mean that they ensure that there is safety and that all regulations (updated ones) are implemented. So, it can help a lot from that perspective. Again, some industries just require it to the point where there is no choice at all, and you have to have one. It can be nice to have, especially if you’re in a low-risk environment. As stated earlier, an emergency can happen at any time, such as cardiac arrest, a fire, or even a natural disaster (like a tornado unexpectedly happening), and this can help remove some of the stress and panic. 

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