Cultivating a positive safety culture is often easier said than done. Policy violations, negative attitudes, and closed mindsets can hinder the success of workplace safety initiatives. Implementing an effective safety program, however is more than just writing rules and training employees to follow them. It requires a safety manager who is committed to building relationships with each and every employee in order to gain their trust.
Take it from Kyle Hardin, a veteran safety manager who has been with ORR Safety for over six years.
What made you choose the path of safety guru? What do you find the most rewarding about your career?
Kyle: “The path began in college when I chose a field that seemed to have a higher purpose. As I began to do co-op work, I was exposed to a variety of activities that were interesting and led me to believe this would be a fulfilling career. The ultimate reward is knowing that your efforts will prevent people from being harmed. And as a bonus, I have the privilege of working with every employee in the organization.”
What are the biggest pain points or challenges for someone in this position and how have you overcome them?
Kyle: “The biggest hurdles I’ve faced in my career involve working with leadership to advance the safety culture, along with developing the workforce to become proficient in the assessment, evaluation, and control of hazards. The average person wants to do things their way. People have their own reasons for becoming an advocate. Ultimately you’ve got to prove yourself as a partner and an ally to all while being clear about your commitment to worker safety.”
Tell me about a project or initiative that you’re the proudest of?
Kyle: “I was a part of a team that created our first PSA campaign, which focused on preventing workplace injuries and educating employees on hazard awareness in the workplace and at home. Each month employees are required to watch a series of videos that identify potential hazards in their area and the proper precautions they can take to prevent injuries to themselves and fellow coworkers. Through this campaign, we were able to demonstrate a concern for the well-being of each employee and their family, rather than just preventing injuries while on the job. By getting employees involved and talking about their own experiences, we’ve been able to successfully advance the safety culture within ORR.”
Do you have advice for someone going into this field?
Kyle: “Be willing to compromise. There are many ways to achieve an objective, it doesn’t have to be your way. Also, don’t overdo it. Bad policy can do a great deal of harm to your culture.”
Out of the other companies you’ve worked for in the past, how does ORR set itself apart from other safety companies?
Kyle: “Prior to working for ORR, I was a customer. As a safety manager for a manufacturing company, I was responsible for purchasing PPE and I remember being amazed by the culture here. Not only did I receive excellent service, but I built relationships with other safety professionals who were genuinely passionate about keeping their people safe.”