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The vast majority of subcontractors in the country do not have a dedicated Safety Manager, so will hiring one make a difference?  Short answer, yes.  The real answer is much longer.  Most subcontractors (by quantity) don't have a safety program let alone a safety culture, so there are other steps that could be taken prior to hiring a Safety Manager, yet a Safety Manager can help in those endeavors as well.

Let's first take a look at what a Safety Manager can do for your organization:
  1. Create and implement the Safety Program.
  2. Create a safety culture by continual reinforcement, enforcement, and monitoring.
  3. Handle safety claims and injuries.
  4. Keep up on latest standards and provide training to all employees.
  5. Assist with bidding projects as to safe ways to propose on work.
  6. Provide continual OSHA, vehicle, and other training.
  7. Track safety metrics as required by law and for good accountability in the company.
  8. Assist construction crews in proper installation methods to find more safe solutions.
  9. Handle safety audits from clients or governing bodies.
If you don't have a Safety Manager, I am willing to bet that the items above are not happening in the company unless they are "absolutely required" and when they are done they are not done by the most qualified person possible, but by someone who needs to get it done.  Which brings me to one of the biggest errors in hiring a Safety Manager, doing it out of necessity.  When you hire a Safety Manager, hire a Safety Manager.  Taking an employee who would like to do the work, or seems like a good fit will only lead to failure.  You need to hire someone who is a certified safety professional.  Someone who has gone through years of training. 

Rest assured that these guys and gals will be some strange birds in comparison to the rest of your employees, but that is good.  Safety people do not think like construction people, estimating people, or executive people, and that is a good thing.  If you take a good Project Manager and put them in charge of Safety, they will be thinking about client satisfaction, costs, risks, etc before safety.  Safety Managers think about safety first and foremost.  Don't get me wrong the good ones know how to balance all of the competing interests, but instinctively they think safety.

Hiring a Safety Manager, one that knows what they are doing, will make a difference.  They will save you money and more importantly they will save your employees.  There is nothing more important than the safety of our workers.  I haven't met a job yet that is worth the life of any employee. 

Maybe a simpler way to think about it:
Everyone on a football team can kick the ball.  So why hire a kicker, they are a little different than rest of us.  But if you want a winning team, you need a great kicker who can perform under pressure.  That kicker is our safety guy.

About the Author

Craig Pierce

Craig Pierce has been working in the construction industry for the past 25 years helping subcontractors master their trade. Currently he is President of Atalanta Enterprises which provides consulting services to contractors And software solutions through