When a company should hire a safety professional such as a safety director or manager will depend on a variety of factors. Some of these factors include the size of the company, type of operation, how safety responsibilities are already delegated to other managers, and more.
This post will provide more information to assist you in determining when a safety professional should be hired, what type of person should be hired, determining responsibilities, and determining pay for the position.
Factors to Consider When Hiring for a Safety Position
As mentioned above, there are many factors to consider when hiring anyone, and the same is true when hiring someone to handle the safety responsibilities at your company. Some of the major starting factors that impact when the first safety professional is hired can include:
- Size of the operation
- The number of locations the company has
- Responsibilities that this position will handle
- The time commitment needed to properly handle these responsibilities
If you are reading this post, you probably need to hire someone for the safety role. Companies will often wait until there is an unmanageable amount of safety work tasks present or a severe loss occurs before considering hiring their first safety professional.
The rest of this post will provide more details of determining what type of person you need to hire and how to hire for the position.
What Type of Safety Professional and Level of Experience Should I Hire?
Just like many other industries, there are a variety of titles thrown around in the environmental, health, and safety (EHS) field. The title of the role you hiring for does matter but not as much as what responsibilities that person needs to do and the caliber of leader you may be in need of.
The management team should take time to figure out what responsibilities need to be taken on by the individual who is being hired. You may find that you only need a part-time person for these responsibilities or that you be able to just hire a consulting firm to assist your company.
On the other hand, if you delayed hiring someone in a safety professional role, you may find that you actually need a full-time safety manager and a part-time administrative assistant.
As far as the level of experience goes, it will greatly depend on what they are responsible for. If you are looking for someone to totally overhaul your safety program, you need someone with general safety experience and leadership experience. If you just need someone to lead safety training sessions, ensure compliance with basic OSHA regulations, and complete inspections, hiring someone with less experience makes more sense.
You obviously do not want to hire someone with a year of experience for a VP-level safety role. The same can be said for hiring someone overqualified. The only exception to this rule is if a well-qualified applicant is specifically looking for a role with fewer responsibilities.
High-performing safety professionals will not be with you very long if they are stuck doing mundane tasks and have no power to make meaningful changes in your safety program. Be honest about what you are looking for and find the person who fits these needs.
Figuring Out Responsibilities
Figuring out what specific responsibilities you need a safety professional to take on will make the entire process of understanding whether you need to hire someone, figuring out a job title, figuring a job description, and what to offer for a salary a lot easier.
You may not even fully understand what responsibilities the safety professional you are hiring will need to handle. There are some creative ways to get a general idea before sitting down with your management team to understand what company-specific responsibilities the new hire would be taking on.
First, look at job descriptions posted by similar companies in your industry that are hiring for safety professionals. This will provide you with a good baseline to start with. You can also consult with other people who may have a better understanding of what may be required.
Some ideas include:
- Contact other companies in your industry. Do not be afraid to pick up the phone to call a competitor or a larger company to get their experience when figuring out what responsibilities the first safety professional had to handle when they made a similar hire.
- Contact a safety consulting firm. These firms will have a deep understanding of what your company will need to do from both a regulatory standpoint as well as from a safety best practices standpoint.
- Contact the risk management department at your insurance company. If your workers’ compensation carrier or auto liability carrier has a risk management team, these individuals can have a lot of experience with a variety of companies in your industry. They can provide insight into what other companies have in place when it comes to a safety department.
Questions to Ask to Determine Responsibilities
Once you have a general idea of what responsibilities a safety professional in your industry may need to handle, you can meet with the management team to dive into company-specific needs. Asking basic questions and brainstorming together can provide you with a solid understanding of what you are in need of.
Some company-specific questions to ask include:
- Who manages these responsibilities now?
- What time commitment is required to properly handle these items?
- Will this hire have continued help from other managers with these responsibilities?
- Will this person be responsible for one location or multiple locations?
- Will this person manage other people?
- Who will this person report to?
- What are growth plans for the company?
- What is the career path for this individual?
By answering these questions, your company should get clarity of what you are exactly looking for in this position.
How Much Should I Pay a Safety Professional?
Once you figure out what kind of responsibilities you need the safety professional to handle, you can determine an accurate job title and job description for the position. Using the job title and job description, you can use popular job boards such as Glassdoor, Indeed, or LinkedIn to get a better idea of a salary range you may need to offer to attract quality candidates in your area.
If you are seeking to fill a director-level position or a VP-level position that includes a lot of self-direction and responsibility within your organization, the starting salary will not be $50,000. These positions in the safety field often start in the six-figure range before bonuses.
Entry-level jobs in the safety field may start as low as $40,000, depending on your area. When I graduated college in 2014, $45K to $75K was the common range for a base salary for a safety professional who has a bachelor’s degree but no experience.
The Board of Safety Professionals publishes an annual survey of individuals who have certifications through their organization. This survey can also be useful in determining salary ranges and can be filtered by title, years of experience, geographical location, industry, gender, education, and more.
You can view the results of the survey by clicking here.
Once you have your job posting published, applications should start to roll in. Obviously finding someone with the right experience and who is a fit for your company is vitally important for hiring in any role.
If this is your first time hiring a safety professional, consider involving someone who has experience in the safety field or who has hired for a similar role. There may be someone in your organization who has previous experience doing so at another company, or you may need to bring in someone from outside of your organization. Understanding the right questions to ask is critical to ensuring that the candidate will be a fit for the position you are looking for.
If you are thinking that you may need someone to handle the safety responsibilities at your company then you probably have waited too long to fill the position.
Hiring can be a stressful process, and this is especially true if you are looking to hire the first safety professional at your company. Hopefully, this post provided some clarity as to whether you need to hire someone for a safety role, and if so, provided you with the next steps to start the process of finding the right person for the job.
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