Think and Manage HSE Like a Business Leader, By Olawale Ogunyebi
In the early years of my career, I was so obsessed with safety that I took little or no interest in other functions…
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The HSEQ Career Column is a weekly article series written by Olawale Ogunyebi, a veteran HSEQ practitioner and the Managing Partner at MTC ENT. Dev. Limited. The purpose of this series is to mentor HSEQ career aspirants, narrating and drawing out lessons from the writer’s real-life experiences in the safety industry. Catch up with a post you’ve missed HERE.
In the early years of my career, I was so obsessed with safety that I took little or no interest in other functions; At meetings, safety presentation came up first and once I was done with my presentation, I would give little attention to other departmental presentations. I rarely asked questions after their presentation. I was an HSE Manager, Q.E.D.
I remember a particular case when HR and Safety departments were to jointly address the workers. The HR presentation came first and I wasn’t there. When it was my turn to make the Health and Safety presentation, guess what the HR Manager did. He beckoned to all the HR personnel in the room and they all left.
Most HSE Managers complain of lack of top management commitment or line management ownership of Health and Safety. This may be partly due to the fact that we also do not often demonstrate a visible commitment to other functions.
Read Also: Part One: A Review of Liability And Fiduciary Responsibility in The Workplace; An Open Letter To The Nigerian Employer
As an HSE Manager, are you aware of how the finance department runs? Can you discuss production planning and logistics with your supply chain team? Are you there on the shop floor when there is a machine breakdown or a quality problem? Do you only show up to enforce safety rules, or to offer suggestions or support even though you are not an Engineer?
Are you available and visible whenever there is a marketing function, like an internal launch of a new product? Have you ever gone on a sales trip with your Sales department?
The effective HSE Manager is more like a business leader or a business partner than a departmental Manager. One of the key drivers of an interdependent safety culture is total employee engagement. The more employees you have driving the safety agenda, the safer your organisation becomes and the less your frustration on the job. Let your colleagues see you more as a business partner rather than as a policeman or an auditor.
If you don’t want to be a frustrated lone ranger, but want your fellow managers to be interested in driving workplace safety, be interested in what they do also.
See you next week. Do leave a comment for me.