5 Career Development Opportunities for Safety Professionals in 2023
Safety is a dynamic industry. These are the steps you can take to stay ahead.
There is nothing boring about being a safety professional. While some of your duties will remain the same from year to year, your job is continuously evolving. Standards get updated and new regulations come into effect. New technologies change the way work gets done. Thought leaders revolutionize the discipline and help you see safety in a brand new light.
To keep up with all of this, you need to stay up to date and refresh your skills as needed. But where do you start?
Here are several key career development opportunities for safety professionals in 2023. These will help you stay ahead of the changes in safety and excel in your field.
Staying informed about the latest updates to OSHA regulations is crucial. Every employer will expect you to be well versed in the applicable standards and to help them navigate through every change in regulation.
Taking courses and attending seminars can be a good way to do this. Reading industry publications and participating in professional organizations will also help you stay on top of the latest industry trends.
Learn About Your Industry
As a safety professional, you have to wear two hats.
First, you need to be well informed about safety. That's a given – it's your stock and trade.
But safety doesn't happen in a vacuum. It takes place in specific workplaces, each with a unique set of hazards and hundreds of factors that need to be taken into account.
That has a significant impact on how you carry out your work. Yes, you're in charge of safety, but overseeing safety on a construction site isn't the same as overseeing safety in a retail space. Keeping workers safe on a roadside project isn't the same as protecting them inside a warehouse.
Because of that, you should take steps to learn more about the industry you're working in. If you handle safety on construction projects, for example, you would benefit from learning more about the electrical systems used on site.
A great way to accomplish this by taking on additional responsibilities or cross-training in other areas of your organization.
Improve Your Leadership Skills
Safety might not be an executive position, but that doesn't mean you can't be a leader. In fact, several aspects of your job require you to be one. Communicating effectively with workers, getting buy-in for new safety initiatives, and convincing management to invest in safety all involve an exercise of your leadership abilities.
Very few people are natural born leaders, so it is highly advisable that you take active steps to develop your leadership skills. Take courses and workshops on leadership and management. Read up on different ways to improve your leadership qualities. And don't shy away from leadership positions in your organization, like serving on safety committees or leading training sessions.
(Learn more in 5 Reasons You Struggle with Safety Buy-In)
Pay Attention to the Latest Technology
We've come a long way from the days of analog safety. Instead of printing out spreadsheets and stuffing rows of binders with forms, safety information is tracked and documented digitally.
That's only the tip of the safety tech iceberg, however. New and emerging technologies are being added to the safety professional's toolkit every year. You should be learning about all the tech that could help you improve safety in your workplace – and advocate for it when your safety processes could benefit from an upgrade.
This could include virtual reality safety training sessions that give workers hands-on experience in hazardous scenarios without actually putting them in harm's way, drones that allow you to carry out site inspections quickly and safely, or wearable devices that alert workers to risks long before they become evident.
Build Your Network
Safety is a highly collaborative field. Although they're spread out across different organizations, safety professionals all have the same mission: to make sure every worker is safe on the job. As such, they're all too happy to help each other achieve that mission.
You can't benefit from the input of your peers if you're not in touch with them, however. That's why you should build a network of contacts within the industry. You can do that by attending industry conferences and events, joining professional organizations, connecting with them on social media, and participating in online forums and discussion groups.
Be the Best Safety Professional You Can Be
Safety is a dynamic profession. To get ahead, you'll need to keep learning, improving your skills, and getting a deeper understanding of your industry. Take advantage of these career development opportunities now and you'll become a better safety professional – in 2023 and beyond.