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Warehouses, construction sites and manufacturing plants can all be very dangerous environments for employees and property alike. For this reason, state, local and federal agencies, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, have highly regulated many industries, ensuring that employers provide a safe workplace so that employees avoid injury. It is the job of safety chairmen to make sure all regulations are enforced, but enforcing government regulations is just one of several duties.
Chief Safety Officer
Many safety officials will tell you that everyone is a safety officer because everyone is responsible for making sure safety stays a part of the workplace. In this case, a safety chairman is the chief security officer. As the head of the safety infrastructure in an organization, it is ultimately the responsibility of a safety chairman to ensure that all employees understand safe work procedures and observe important rules such as wearing personal protective equipment. This duty often includes running safety checks -- both announced and often unannounced -- on every part of the organization, quality checking processes, and replacing protective equipment when necessary.
Safety chairmen are frequently responsible for investigating incidents or injuries to find a cause and recommend sensible solutions. This most commonly means interviewing the employees directly involved, but can also mean bringing in experts to determine structure stability or experts in ballistics if flying debris was involved. It may require bringing in chemical analysts if the accident was deemed the result of chemical accident or abuse. A safety chairman may then recommend a course of action to a superior that will decrease the possibility of another such incident -- such as eliminating an employee or reinforcing scaffolding.
Typically, one of the chief jobs of safety chairmen is reporting on short- and long-term safety procedures. In the short term, a chairman may make frequent quality checks, sometimes unobserved, to ensure everyone has adequate safety equipment and is observing safety procedures. Long term, a chairman may look at the procedures and equipment themselves and determine over time whether they are indeed the best way of getting the job done safely.
Companies are often sued by employees who claim to have been the victim of easily avoidable accidents. To combat these lawsuits, safety chairmen may be tasked with keeping regular and thorough records so that false claims can be combated in the event of a lawsuit from an employee.
Sean Russell has been writing since 1999 and has contributed to several magazines, including "Spin" and "Art Nouveau." When not writing, Sean helps maintain community gardens in Silver Lake and Echo Park, California. Russell also worked extensively on the restoration and rejuvenation of public parks in Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi after damage from 2004-2005 hurricanes.