We’ve made a list of most common mistakes safety leaders make. Realizing and correcting these shortcomings can turn a bad safety leader into a good one.

They Have Poor Communication Skills

Leaders often assume that employees know what signifies an injury and how and when to report it. But the average employee doesn’t necessarily know all of this. Telling employees once during initial training is just not enough. It is crucial to frequently check for understanding and regularly repeat the importance of safety inspecting and  incident reporting. Some workers may ask questions on how to inspect or how to report something. Some may not understand that minor injuries or near misses (e.g., cuts, scrapes) should be reported, as well as why this is also important. 

Leaders can prevent many of these obstacles by simply talking about the topic and making sure that everyone understands the how and why behind inspecting and incidence reporting. Managers and supervisors with poor communication skills or with introverted personalities can have problems with this and may need coaching and support in order to succeed in this way. Luckily, this is a skill that can be taught and improved over time. You should never in any kind of situation or organization underestimate the importance of communication at all levels.

They Treat Employees as "Equipment"

Safety leaders can get so obsessed with the pressures of making their workplaces safe and the metrics that they forget that they are dealing with real individuals.

They "Know It All"

You'll easily notice these people because they often answer employees’ questions with a smug attitude. They don't listen well. A “know-it-all” will struggle to grow as a safety leader. 

They Aren't Employee Advocates

When something goes wrong, they blame the workers.

They Always Have an Excuse 

Good safety leaders admit to their mistakes, shortcomings, or delays in action and strive to learn from them.  They don’t make excuses.

They Avoid Tough Decisions

Leaders who only strive to be liked and avoid conflict at all costs will soon find out they’ve focussed on the wrong thing.

They Chase Status 

The real reason behind working on improving safety should not be recognition. It should be making a difference in your community and other people’s lives.

They Don’t Practice What They Preach 

For example, if a safety leader engages in texting while driving it sends a message that safety isn’t truly value.


Safety leadership can be compromised by these common mistakes. The safest organizations work to ensure that their safety leaders avoid these pitfalls because poor safety leaders result in poor safety.

Image: Shutterstock

Tags: safety management, safety awareness, workplace safety, inspection management


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