If you go into almost any food manufacturing plant and ask what their most important objective is, the likely response you will hear is safety. Not only producing safe, quality food but also ensuring that workers are safe in the process.
Even with safety on everyone’s mind it can be difficult to implement. People need to be educated and continuously reminded how to perform their work safety. But who are the individuals that actually implement these processes and monitor them? Those professionals are Health and Safety Managers.
This week on the “8 Facts About” series we are taking a look at the exciting career of Health and Safety Managers and how they are an integral part of food facility.
1. Health and Safety Managers ensure the safety of employees
A health and safety manager is an individual who is:
Responsible for preventing accidents and injuries in the workplace and ensuring that all employees are provided with a safe environment to work in. Health and Safety Managers (HSMs) perform these tasks by developing procedures, initiatives and training courses to promote a proactive safety and health culture. In addition, they investigate incidents and non-compliance events to determine contributing factors and recommend remedial action to prevent reoccurrences.
They participate in regular health and safety meetings with site management to ensure program implements and goals are met. Finally, they set objectives and goals for team members which can be monitored using analytical data.
2. Health and Safety Managers develop training programs
Although every workplace and occupational health and safety (OHS) program are different, there are key elements common to all programs. Depending on the size of a company, a HSM will either create or improve upon health and safety policies. Even with safety as a top priority workers need safely education and/or training.
HSMs may set up formal classroom instructions that include lectures, discussions and videos. Training may involve small groups with hand-on, job-specific training. Through training HSMs can observe workers to ensure they follow safe work procedures and proper protective equipment is used.
3. Health and Safety Manager typically have this education
The most common educational background for HSMs is a degree/ certificate in Occupational Health and Safety. Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario offers a four-year bachelor of applied science degree in Occupational Health and Safety. Alternatively, Sheridan college offers a degree in Occupational Health and Safety which includes courses such as Industrial Hygiene, Legislation for Health and Safety and Hazard Identification.
Keep in mind, this is not the only degree you can have to be a HSM. Some workplaces allow individuals to have a background in engineering, life science and sometimes even in food science. However, in order to become a manager an individual would need to to have working experience in a manufacturing environmental in a safety, environmental capacity.
4. Healthy and Safety Managers perform a lot of paperwork
One of the unfortunate aspects of this job is that it involves a lot of paperwork. In order to monitor processes data and notes must be collected. When performing audits notes are written down and these are transferred to online documentation. Through paperwork potential problems and trends can be identified with can then be brought to the attention of operation management. Therefore, you must be an organized individual to keep up with it all!
5. Health and Safety Managers conduct regular audits
Audits are methodical, independent and and documented assessments of a business’ system and processes, in which it is measured against regulated criteria to make sure health and safety standards are being upheld. They are important because they help to reduce the risk of personal traumas or injury, promote employee morale and ensure customer confidence.
When running audits health and safety managers are looking to see if workers are upholding safety policies or if there are hidden safety concerns. Audits allow HSM to address issues such as poor planning, organizational structures, hazard identification and review overall performances. Once audits are collected food manufacturing plants can go back and correct their mistakes and making sure that it does not happen again.
6. Health and Safety Manager have an in-depth knowledge of HSE regulations
Although health and safety regulations vary from country to country there are core regulations that they need to master. Some of the regulations they need to be aware of are:
- Occupational Safety and Health Act- Is an act created to prevent workers from being killed or otherwise harmed at work. This law requires employers to provide thir employees with conditions that are free of known dangers.
- Canadian Labour Code- This act’s objective is to facilitate production by controlling strikes and lockouts, occupational safe and health and other employment standards. It focuses on the recognition and prevention of hazards.
- Canada Environmental Act- This is an act whose goal is to contribute to sustainable development through pollution prevention and to protect the environment, human life and health from the risks associated with toxic substances.
7. Health and Safety Managers are leaders
In order for things to actually change these individuals have to be able to effectively manage a team. HSMs understand the strengths and weaknesses of an organization and use it to promote proactive worker safety. They need to be comfortable with managing projects without being managed themselves. Furthermore, HSMs act as the face of ultimate safety and are the ones that anyone can to for questions regarding to safety.
8. Health and Safety Managers have this set of skills
- Analytical- HSMs have the ability to apply issues analysis and problem solving skills to safety issues and come up with logical strategies for effective issue response.
- Organizational Skills- As stated earlier these professional do a lot of paperwork. They need to be organized in such a way that any file or document can be pulled out in a moments notice. Depending on the size of the company HSMs ccould travel between plants. When traveling they need to have all their belongings in check!
- Communication and Relationship Management- These professionals have the ability to influence others to achieve desired results by building support and commitment. They also have the ability to understand conflict resolution, negotiation, consultation and relationship building.
Author: Veronica Hislop – Veronica is a recent Chemistry grad from Ryerson University and loves looking at the science in the kitchen. She has a passion for bringing awareness to sustainability in the food industry. When Veronica is taking a break from her food endeavours you will find her at home reading a great novel and playing with her cats.
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