For an organization to make the most informed decisions regarding their safety program, a fully comprehensive view of the situation — the data, the safety culture, and how the organization operates — is required. To some organizations, this means turning to a trusted, internal safety professional, to leverage their proprietary knowledge of the organization’s inner workings. To others, this means turning to an outside safety professional, to offer up new insights and resources that provide additional context to what is already established within the organization.
But which path is the better option, and which professional is the stronger resource? To understand, lets stack the strengths of both professionals and determine the best choice for businesses looking to get serious about their safety program.
A New Set of Eyes
From the top, let’s assume both safety professionals — inside and outside — are equally qualified. Because, in general, this is more than likely true — inside and outside safety professionals will have similar skill and knowledge sets, and know which resources to draw on to evaluate, and suggest improvements for, safety. Because of this, with all else being equal, the main points of differentiation come down to how these professionals are able to apply the knowledge and skills they possess.
For instance, perception in the workplace. Every business has a tricky thing that just “is the way it is”, such as a particular door handle that has to be jostled the “right” way before opening, or the “correct” sequence the lights need to be turned on in a certain hallway. These oddities stick out the first time an employee interacts with them, but by the tenth, twentieth, or hundredth time, they become background noise; just another engrained muscle memory of the organization.
This same issue can be true of workplace procedures as well. Internal safety professionals can have certain blind spots around small procedural actions because they are just part of the way things have always been done. Bringing in an outside safety professional brings with them an entirely new set of eyes for the situation, though, and a different perspective on the issues when they’re pointed out by someone not within the organization. Oftentimes, simply by having the question raised by an unbiased, 3rd party — in this instance, an outside safety pro — the issue will be investigated and addressed.
Friends and Family Discount
A similar blind spot that can affect inside safety professionals is a preferential bias for employees. Whether consciously or unconsciously, inside safety pros will tend to more forgiving, or be more subjective, when a safety issue directly relates to another employee of the organization. Which makes sense, as these employees are their coworkers, and being a part of a team natural builds comradery.
Unfortunately, being a direct part of the team provides the inside safety professional with a double-edged sword, as they are more intimately familiar with how the organization operates, and thus, know which processes and operations are more likely to have safety issues; but, at the same time, they may be too close to the situation, and be reluctant to point out issues to avoid casting specific employees in a perceived negative light.
Outside safety professionals, on the other hand, tend to be more objective when looking at where and how safety issues arise. By coming into the situation without direct ties to the employees themselves, outside safety professionals are able to stay removed from the internal on-the-job politics, and approach the facts of the safety issue from an unbiased perspective. While not as familiar with every minute detail of the inner workings of the operation, they will be able to be more prescriptive with their safety analysis, which allows an organization to take more direct action to achieve their safety goals.
Best of Both Worlds
For a truly comprehensive safety analysis, that provides rounded, actionable solutions, the best choice is for inside and outside safety professionals to work together. By combining their unique perspectives, both professionals can work in tandem to create a dynamic understanding of the organization’s processes, and recommend solutions that take both the qualitative and quantitative metrics for the organization into consideration.
This is why Optimum specifically invites inside safety professionals to join in during on-site safety analyses. Because part of what makes the P3 Safety Culture Analysis™ so comprehensive is integrating the perspective and findings of the organization’s team — the “People” aspect of the P3 Safety Culture Analysis™ — to contextualize and act upon the KPIs measured during the analysis. While either inside or outside safety professionals could conduct a safety analysis on their own, the value of utilizing both professionals’ skills far eclipses the efforts of either one working alone.
Optimum Safety Management provides the information and services to help companies develop safety leaders and improve overall safety performance. For more information on how Optimum Safety Management can assist with your businesses’ safety needs, contact an expert today, or reach out via phone at 630-759-9908.