Season's Wishes

What would you like to see drop on your desk for the new year?

Given my beard and increasing girth, I can see a second career in a few years listening to the requests of bright-eyed youngsters in December. Of course, I'm hoping by that point, Santa outfits will come in fire-resistant, wrinkle-free, breathable fabrics. Until then, I thought I'd take a practice run in this column handling your wish lists.

More help. No, I won't be able to double your staff, but then, why should I? Isn't safety a line responsibility? If so, you should have lots of help with safety training, behavior modification, accident investigation, auditing and other duties. If not, maybe safety is less a line responsibility in your organization and more like just a line.

Management commitment. My, my, so many requests for a better boss and such a short supply this season! "Leadership is action, not position," said Donald H. McGannon, former CEO of the Westinghouse Broadcasting Corp. If your management is committed to worker safety, give them something to do (okay, this is your gift, not mine, but it's still giving). Make safety a routine topic in their company communications. Have them attend your annual safety meeting (hey, have them fund an annual safety meeting!). Get some programming time to put safety on your intranet. Make safety an element in your supervisors' compensation package.

Continuing education. You've got it. Read this magazine, visit our Web site and sign up for our E-News. Management will like this; it's all free. But don't stop there. Sign up for courses (online or in person), attend local professional meetings and, if you desire, go back to school for that degree you always wanted. If your boss says there's no money for continuing education, show him the list of responsibilities you have and what the cost of one disabling injury was. Bet that investment in your professional knowledge will look cheap by comparison.

Employee involvement. Let's define our terms on this wish. After all, all employees are involved in safety, at least physically. What sort of involvement are you seeking follow safety rules, observe safe work practices, contribute to safety meetings, volunteer for safety committees? And if they offer ideas, are they being listened to? Do they get a meaningful response in a timely manner, or a rubber stamp that says, "Thanks, but we'll do it our way." Do they see supervisors leading by example? If not, why would employees want to spend their time on something their boss doesn't value?

Batteries. Oh come on, everybody needs batteries this time of year. Yours might be a little run down about now. If you're taking time over the holidays, get a few good nights' sleep. Spend time with the family, have a few laughs, get some exercise. You need to take care of yourself if you are going to be an effective member of a team charged with promoting the health and safety of your work force. Put your creativity, your energy and your passion for safety and health on display. Challenge yourself to find new ways to accomplish your goals for EHS performance in the company and you just might find a receptive audience.

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