Hiring a Safety Professional? Here’s What to Look For

what to look for when hiring a safety professional ireportsource blog

“With any job, or any career—and that includes safety—successful people generally will know their ‘why,’” says Lasey Thompson, Senior HSE Advisor and Training Coordinator at SafetyPro Resources, LLC. SafetyPro Resources, LLC is an independent safety consulting firm that focuses on helping clients with safety management system auditing, process safety management, site safety inspections, safety meeting training, safety compliance tools, staffing and recruiting services, and more. In our last post with Thompson, we talked about ways to move towards an engaged culture of constructive accountability. Related to that idea is the process of finding and selecting new safety professionals that can add to an engaged culture, explains Thompson. “When we talk about someone’s ‘why,’ it’s why did they choose their profession? Why are they contributing and involved in their profession?” says Thompson. When a prospective employee knows their purpose, they have greater self-awareness and it’s a simpler process for seeing if they are a cultural fit for your company. “It may be something emotional, and something that really touches a person and makes them want to make a difference in the world. In today’s workforce, not only do people want to make a difference, they need to make a difference. People really need a purpose that helps guide them,” says Thompson. Besides looking to uncover someone’s purpose or “why,” here are 5 other factors SafetyProResources looks for when hiring a safety professional.

1. Competence to do the role—and the ability to grow into future roles.

No matter if they are a cultural fit, you want to be sure that someone is going to be qualified and can be competent in their role. But also envision the role they have in future years; after all, ideally you want to hire someone who can continue to grow with the company. A fundamental place to start? Having the right credentials. When hiring, SafetyPro Resources identifies that there are a wide number of credentials in the Safety, Health, Environmental, and Loss Prevention world. We prefer (and promote) credentials awarded through the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP). Every team member holds a certification from BCSP. The BCSP is the gold standard in safety certifications and means the credential holder has met rigorous educational, experience and examination requirements. Secondary consideration is given to credentials issued purely through attendance of a course and successful passing of a quiz, CSST, OSHA 500/501, COSS, for example.

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2. Professionalism so that a person will positively reflect on your organization.

A great majority of jobs today require professionalism, so ensure people you consider have the right approach. One part of this is to examine and evaluate someone’s ability to communicate professionally. Do they have the proper etiquette during the pre-interview process or the interview process itself? Be sure if someone’s going to be communicating across email or in-person that you would be comfortable with them doing so, as they will influence cultural norms but also reflect your company in the marketplace. SafetyPro looks at professionalism not only in terms of quality production and service, and how well a person communicates, but also in areas of association. Every person on the team is a member of the ASSE, and the company takes pride in that. The ASSE is the oldest and largest safety society in the country. The team members are not just members, but they also serve in leadership positions in local and regional levels.  Any candidate who isn’t a member of the ASSE is not given preference, during the hiring process

3. Proof of the desire to grow professionally.

Does the candidate have any signs they’ve worked on themselves professionally or that they have the desire to do so? Or have they pursued anything outside of work to grow themselves as leaders? One indication of a desire to grow professionally is education. “It is important that safety professionals are continuously seeking out new knowledge to keep their skills sharp and the company encourages participation in professional development training and courses, ” says Thompson. It’s not about the conferences or places they want to go to—it’s about what they’ve done to try to grow in some professional capacity.

4. Ethics that align with your company values.

When you talk about someone’s purpose with them, it’s likely you’ll hear more about what they value, and what drives them as a person. That’s important because you want to have someone who authentically and genuinely embraces the same values as your company. In the long-run, they’ll add to your culture and they are more likely to stay with your company versus someone who does not embrace the company values. For SafetyPro Resources, LLC, it’s also about honesty and integrity. “We value honestly. Honesty is one of our tenants of Safety Excellence because often, our word is all we have in safety. However, when vetting quality candidates, we don’t take everything at face value. We see people lie on their resume all too often, unfortunately,” explains Thompson. Knowing that people could be dishonest, be sure to follow up with references or do due diligence when necessary to protect your company. You can be sure to share how this will be done at the beginning of the hiring process; this can also help to discourage dishonest people from even applying or lying on applications. If you start doing it consistency (verification of degrees, verification of past employment, due diligence, reference checks, background checks, etc.) across candidates without making exception, it will help to cut down on hiring people who are not a fit over time.

5. Experience that reflects a passion for safety.

When evaluating a safety professional’s work experience, SafetyPro Resources looks at the amount of time they’ve spent with previous employers. It’s just one sign of their future behavior. “For those who work primarily on projects, multiple employers can be expected. However, if the candidate has multiple positions in management over a short period of time, this may present a red flag.” A red flag is just that— a red flag, meaning that it should require additional follow-up and questioning, but it may be nothing more than a red flag. In other cases, it could signal a deeper issue and it may mean they aren’t going to be a great fit for your organization. “It also can help us continue to explore if they have a passion for safety. A passion for safety is very important for us to see.”

Don’t Rush the Hiring Process

Thompson emphasizes just how important it is to try to get to know someone to see what drives them, what they truly value, and their higher purpose. They may say one thing, but their behavior or their past history tells another story. Another important tip: Don’t rush the hiring process, or things you value can be overlooked. By “hiring slow,” you’ll have more opportunities to see someone in a variety of settings and you’ll be able to make better decisions in general. It’s true it may seem daunting, says Thompson, but don’t think you can change your hiring process overnight; look to evolve it over time. “And remember that fully assessing the appropriate knowledge, skills and experience necessary to perform the core functions of what safety professionals do doesn’t take place in one meeting or one phone interview. It is a multi-tiered process that ensures that only the best candidates are even considered,” she adds.

Support an Engaged Culture

Designed to help support people-centered safety practices, iReport enables users to:

  • Avoid complacency and manage risk – Reinforce behavior-based safety practices and stay OSHA compliant by providing an easy way to do safety audits, site inspections, and more.
  • Improve outcomes – Easy access to data and reporting to reduce incidents and provide a safer workplace.
  • Effortless incident workflow–  Complete the FROI immediately onsite and manage the workflow with your team collaboratively to reduce time handling incident reporting.

Learn more about how iReport can help you more precisely spot and predict high risk situations to drive a more engaged workforce.

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