Not everyone has what it takes to be a good safety auditor.
It takes more than knowing the technical details of what’s necessary to keep people safe in your organization. That knowledge is essential, but it’s only the starting point. The best safety auditors also have the following characteristics.
1. A love of getting into the “heart of things.” Like a detective, auditors need to be passionate about uncovering the truth of what’s going on. They don’t settle for the easy answer or accept unverified information.
2. Strong people skills. Auditing is much more than paperwork—it’s also about dealing with people to get the necessary information and then convincing them to take positive action. The best auditors are persuasive, have a knack for building relationships, and are easily likable.
3. A service-oriented mindset. Auditors need to be inquisitive, but those with the mindset that their only role is to find problems tend to come across to others in the organization as “out to get us.” Safety auditing isn’t just about assuring safety; it also involves advising people about how to make things safer. It’s about helping everyone in the organization.
4. A risk-averse nature. The best safety auditors have internalized how important risk management is to sustainable success. They are cautious, thorough, and meticulously follow established auditing procedures in order not to overlook any safety risk. They have nightmares about missing something.
5. Integrity. The sad reality is that safety auditors are sometimes implicitly pressured (or even outright asked) to overlook or underreport the magnitude of a risk, inefficiency, or other problem that comes to their attention during audits. The auditors who deliver the most value to their organizations aren’t susceptible to this pressure because they have personal value systems that place more worth on fulfilling their duty than on being on everybody’s good side.
6. Thick skin. There’s a fine line between being likable (which is great) and being unwilling to be unpopular when it’s necessary (which is counterproductive). Auditors who have strong people skills will want to get along well with people—that’s a big part of what “people skills” are about. But when safety auditors are forced to take a hard stand because of their integrity, they need to be able to handle any negative feedback without taking it personally.
7. Business acumen. Some safety auditors can observe and record, but they don’t have a solid understanding of how what they’re measuring relates to the business’s bottom line and future. This isn’t what companies are looking for from auditors these days. They want insight into what the numbers mean, and safety auditors need to be able to explain their results in a relevant business context.
8. The capability to provide easy-to-understand reporting. Making a meaningful impact with the results of a safety audit depends on being able to communicate the results so that stakeholders can fully comprehend their importance.
9. A willingness and ability to gain advantages from technology. Technology (the internet, inspection software, mobile devices, etc.) can benefit safety auditors in numerous ways. For example, audit reporting can be automated, streamlined, more easily shared, and more easily digested if safety auditors are able to make use of technology such as The Checker Software.
Successful safety auditors bring more to the table than technical knowledge of safety issues. They make use of many skills to be agents of positive change that increase safety and profits.