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Understanding the 5 Essential Responsibilities of a Workplace Safety Officer

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2022 alone, there were 2,804,200 non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses, with 5,486 fatal injuries recorded over the same period. While workplace injuries and illness remain an issue within every industry, these numbers are made all the more concerning when taking the rise of workplace violence (WPV) into account. According to OSHA, there are more than 2 million reports each year, with frontline workers within the hospitality and healthcare sectors at particular risk.

 

Taken together, these figures paint a worrying picture of the state of the workplace in the US, with literally millions suffering illness or injury at work or otherwise feeling unsafe within their workplace. The good news is that, by introducing safety officers within your organization, you can take steps to improve workplace safety and security through comprehensive risk assessments, policy development, education and training, and compliance monitoring.   

 

Having worked closely with safety officers across numerous industries when integrating our panic button solutions, we have some insight into this important organizational role. Here then, we explore the core responsibilities of a safety officer and why it is important that your business considers hiring one. Read on to learn more.

 

Who is a Safety Officer?

 

A safety officer is a safety professional responsible for overseeing and enforcing safety protocols and regulations within the workplace, usually with expertise in occupational health and safety standards, risk assessment, and emergency response procedures. They work closely with management and employees to identify potential hazards, develop safety policies, conduct training sessions, and ensure compliance with industry regulations and legislation. Ultimately, a safety officer’s job is to introduce safety measures that help build a safe and healthy work environment where employees can perform their duties without risking their well-being or health.

 

Roles of a Workplace Safety Officer

 

The role of a safety officer is broad, covering a range of safety management responsibilities including implementing and maintaining safety standards, conducting risk assessments, developing safety policies, conducting training sessions, and monitoring compliance with regulatory standards. Below, we look at the responsibilities of a safety officer in more detail.

 

Risk Assessment       

A risk assessment is a fundamental element of any occupational health and safety program, and it should be the first thing any safety officer aims to conduct. Of course, the elements of a risk assessment will be dependent on your specific industry and sector;, however, it is likely to include regular safety inspections alongside these elements:

 

  •   Identifying sources of chemical, biological, and physical hazards.
  •   Assessing ergonomic factors that may contribute to musculoskeletal disorders.
  •   Evaluating potential fire hazards and emergency evacuation procedures.
  •   Examining electrical systems for compliance with safety standards.
  •   Identifying potential zones or flashpoints where workplace violence may occur.

 

 

Policy and Protocol Development

Safety procedures, policies, and protocols are another essential responsibility of a safety officer, and collaboration with management and other relevant stakeholders is key when building a safe working environment. This may involve:,

 

  • Establishing clear guidelines for personal protective equipment (PPE) usage.
  • Defining procedures for reporting hazards, incidents, and near misses.
  • Outlining protocols for responding to emergencies such as fires, chemical spills, medical emergencies, and WPV.
  • Encouraging feedback from employees to ensure policies are practical and effective.

 

 

Safety Training and Education

As part of an expansive health and safety program, a safety officer should offer regular training programs and provide materials that help educate staff on risks, policies, and compliance standards. This may include elements such as:

 

  • Proper handling and storage of hazardous materials.
  • Safe operation of machinery and equipment.
  • Techniques for preventing slips, trips, and falls.
  • Training employees on first aid and emergency response procedures.
  • WPV prevention, response, and management.

 

Compliance Monitoring

 Ensuring compliance with safety regulations and standards is a core responsibility of any safety officer. They conduct regular inspections and audits to assess the workplace for adherence to safety protocols and regulatory requirements. This involves:

 

  • Reviewing documentation to verify that safety policies and procedures are being followed.
  • Inspecting work areas for potential hazards and non-compliance with safety regulations.
  • Investigating incidents and near misses to identify root causes and prevent recurrence.
  • Collaborating with regulatory agencies to address any compliance issues or concerns.

 

Continuous Improvement

Building safer workplaces requires continuous evaluation and improvement, and safety officers play a critical role in fostering this type of culture. This means:

 

  • Analyzing incident reports and near misses to identify trends and areas for improvement.
  • Soliciting feedback from employees to identify potential safety concerns or suggestions for improvement.
  • Implementing corrective actions and preventive measures to address identified issues.
  • Keeping abreast of new developments in safety technology, regulations, and best practices.

 

 

Why Your Business Should Consider Hiring a Safety Officer    

Regardless of the industry your business operates in, a safety officer can be an invaluable addition to your staff. In manufacturing and construction industries they can help you identify and mitigate industrial safety issues related to heavy machinery, hazardous materials, and high-risk work environments. In healthcare and hospitality sectors, they can help create a safe environment for patients, staff, and visitors, reducing the potential for workplace violence or aggressive behaviors. Even in retail settings, safety officers can help minimize risks related to slips, trips, and falls, as well as provide education on safety topics relevant to the sector.

 

All in all, a safety officer can help your organization foster an improved safety culture, which in turn can lead to better returns on your safety expenditure. For more information on improving workplace safety and security procedures and maximizing your ROI, contact ROAR today to discuss your specific requirements or book a demo of our panic button system.

About Author

Yasmine Mustafa

Yasmine Mustafa believes ROAR found her, not the other way around. A former refugee and undocumented immigrant, she draws upon her unique life experiences to lead ROAR in its mission to empower and protect workers across all industries. Her journey is a testament to resilience and unwavering commitment. With over 15 years of leadership in the tech industry, including the successful sale of her first company, 123LinkIt, to a firm in Silicon Valley in 2009, Yasmine is a driving force for positive change, balancing profits with purpose. Yasmine’s workplace safety advocacy and leadership have earned recognition from the BBC, CNBC’s Upstart 100 and the City of Philadelphia. Yasmine is a highly sought-after conference speaker. A two-time TEDx speaker, Yasmine has also presented at the prestigious SXSW and CES conferences, sharing her deep passion for harnessing technology for positive change. Beyond her professional life, Yasmine enjoys time spent with friends and family, exploring the outdoors, biking, and hiking. She also dedicates her time to the boards of Coded by Kids, Leadership Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies.

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