A Safety Officer can be compared to a football coach. The team is the crew, and safety is the game they are a part of.  

In order to ensure the safety of the site, a safety officer has some tasks that they are responsible for. And that brings us to the roles and responsibilities.

Role and responsibilities, of a Safety Officer.

Review contractors’ safety programs.

One of the key responsibilities of a safety officer is to review and approve contractors’ safety programs. In the review, the safety officer should be sure that:

  • The contractor has a written safety program.
  • It is being implemented properly.
  • It is meeting all the requirements of the Occupational Health and safety management system

The contractor’s safety program should set forth:

  • Hours and days for work activities.
  • How the work will be performed, including how high and hazardous areas will be approached.
  • Safe operating procedures for equipment such as loaders and cranes.
  • Securing sites to ensure safety from falling objects or other hazards.

The safety officer should also look out for violations of existing Occupational health and safety management regulations, including general industry standards.

Plan and Implement Occupational health and safety management system policies and programs.

Occupational health and safety management system policies and programs of a worksite are like a security guard to a museum. Security guards patrol the site and ensure that no one is doing anything they shouldn’t be doing. They also act as guides for visitors who are not familiar with the museum.

As part of their role, a Safety Officer must create a plan of action for the worksite to ensure that Occupational health and safety management policies and programs are implemented. The plan of action for the worksite will depend on what is required by law, how big the project is, and any special circumstances such as which type of building is being constructed and how many people are on-site. Regardless of the situation, the Safety Officer’s main priority is to ensure that occupational health and safety management system policies and programs are implemented, ensuring the worksite remains safe.

Safety training for workers.

Worksites are inherently dangerous places, so it is especially important that everyone on the site knows what they are doing to perform their jobs effectively but also to keep themselves safe and out of trouble. Safety training helps workers learn what the hazards are, how to avoid them, and what they should do in case of an emergency. Safety officers are responsible for conducting training which should include general industry-specific safety training and on-site specific safety training. The industry-wide training should be conducted at least annually for new employees to ensure they have a basic understanding of the hazards they will be exposed to.

On-site specific training is necessary because each site may have different risks or potentially hazardous conditions. Safety training for workers should cover topics such as site safety, the importance of understanding and following instructions, how to identify hazards in their work area, how to avoid hazards and minimize risks, and how to use personal protective equipment in their work area. Safety training can also include topics like hazardous materials, first aid skills, CPR training, etc. The length of a safety training session will depend on the needs of the company or the worksite that is hiring the safety officer.

Make on-site inspections.

Typically, this means checking the entire site for potential hazards. This includes: checking that all tools and equipment are present and in good working order, ensuring the safety of machinery and equipment by following proper procedures for moving them around or performing maintenance on them.

Investigate accidents and incidents.

Despite taking good precautionary measures, accidents and incidents can occur. Safety officers investigate these to determine the cause and what needs to be done about it. They may also determine how to prevent it from happening in the future, or if new policies are needed.

Safety officers investigate every aspect of an incident, from the initial alarm to the final result. A safety officer may interview witnesses and workers involved in a work-related accident, collect, and analyze data, examine equipment or machinery in detail, and study safety procedures and policies to prevent future incidents. A safety officer will also be required to produce a report that can be shared with other staff and management, as well as the public as applicable.

Monitoring the site for compliance.

Compliance with the applicable regulations and standards is the responsibility of those in charge of a worksite. The Safety Officer needs to monitor the site for compliance, as well as provide advice and guidance to the site manager. The Safety Officer needs to ensure that all organizations on-site, including suppliers delivering materials or equipment, are aware of their obligations. Adherence to legislative requirements is key in order to avoid penalties.

It is important for the Safety Officer to provide a summary of compliance and any breaches (if identified) in a regular report, which should be given on at least a monthly basis to the site manager. At times, it may be necessary for a Safety Officer to visit sites with higher hazards and more complex needs, to provide specialist advice and guidance.

Keeping records of incidents & safety concerns.

Records, safety data, and related information are crucial in maintaining the safety of all involved at any worksite. The Safety Officer has a duty to work with the site manager, the foreman, the general contractor, and subcontractors to create a system for recording incidents as well as any safety concerns. The system should also include secure storage, no-hassle retrieval, and a means of notifying all parties of hazards and providing information on shutting down a site if necessary. Finally, there should be a system for managing the documentation and keeping it up to date with site changes.

Develop, monitor, and enforce job safety analysis.

It is not uncommon for inexperienced workers to disregard safety protocols. A job safety analysis is a procedure for evaluating and identifying the risks of performing any given task, while also establishing the best ways to avoid those risks. The process of establishing a job safety analysis begins with identifying hazards that might be present on-site, such as what tools and equipment are used, what is in the area of work, location hazards, or weather conditions. The next step requires evaluating each hazard to determine the risk level of the task and then decide how best to avoid these hazards.

Prepare and submit reports.

Reports on safety issues are a key part of the job since it provides insight into how well the safety officer and their team are performing. They can also reveal any issues that are likely to arise in the future. These reports are submitted to various parties, depending on what is being reported and who needs that information. The safety officer may submit a report to their supervisor or contractor, daily, weekly, or monthly. As part of regulatory compliance, safety officers also must submit reports of notifiable incidents to regulatory authorities.

Serving as a liaison.

The worksites are complex places. There are a lot of “moving parts” and stakeholders involved in the process. The Safety Officer as part of their duty serves as an intermediary between the different companies, and different departments within the organization, such as the project manager, client, crew members, insurance companies and subcontractors, suppliers, and general contractors to ensure that all parties have a clear understanding of their safety obligations.

Communication and Information Dissemination.

Information is power, and communication is the conduit for that power. A worksite is usually a complex environment, and without proper communication, it can be chaotic. Workers need to know their safety obligation, where they need to go in case of emergencies, and how they are being protected. Information on the site should be communicated in clear and unambiguous ways, such as via signs or posters that layout important information.

In order to communicate effectively, safety officers must be up to date on the latest issues and changes in occupational health and safety management system regulations in addition to having a system in place for transmitting information to employees quickly – if possible, in real-time. The safety officer should be in constant communication with supervisors and other staff, such as site engineers, foremen, and peers who are responsible for ensuring that employees adhere to the safety standards. Making sure all staff understand and communicate effectively is a sure way to ensure a safer work environment, reduce workplace injuries, and increase productivity.

The goal is simple – fewer accidents, fewer injuries. Ideally zero.

The job should be considered a 24-hour responsibility because the worksite usually never stops. In conclusion.

It is the safety officer who is on call for after-hours emergencies, such as those involving a gas leak or scaffolding collapse.

It is up to the individual safety officer to make sure that all his employees are trained and certified in their respective jobs before he/she leaves them alone at work sites.

And the latest trend for safety officers in fulfilling their responsibilities is the use of an occupational health and safety management system.

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