Safety Manager: Building and Sustaining a Culture of Safety

By Christina Thielst, LFACHE

learn more about osh degrees Businesses and government agencies of all sizes have the responsibility to provide safe and healthy workplaces for employees, contractors, customers and neighboring communities.

To assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women, the U.S. Department of Labor established the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA sets and enforces standards by providing training, outreach, education and assistance with the assistance of regional offices and its local employers.

Ensuring a safe workplace takes commitment from employers to implement the standards that are established and to identify needs for ongoing training and education. Many employers—from large to small organizations—have had success in assigning a safety manager to provide leadership and guidance on workplace safety. 

A safety manager ensures the safety of employees and helps minimize risk and liability. They are often key advisors and may report directly to the CEO. Many companies require  an associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree in occupational safety and health, or certification.

The primary role of a safety manager is to build a culture that values and sustains a safe working environment.

The primary role of a safety manager is to build a culture that values and sustains a safe working environment. To do this, they secure support from executive leaders and work closely with management and employees throughout the organization to identify workplace hazards and the potential for unsafe conditions. They also support other managers, supervisors and/or employees by facilitating activities to address unsafe conditions and to implement of safeguards. Other ways that safety managers help ensure safety in their organizations include:

  • Continually assessing the culture of the organization and promoting open lines of communication
  • Identifying, recommending and developing best practices
  • Monitoring compliance with OSHA and other regulations
  • Motivating, coaching and setting a good example for others by exhibiting safe behaviors
  • Serving as a mediator between employees, management and executive levels to resolve unsafe working conditions

Several activities that safety managers use to fulfill these responsibilities can include:

  • Assessing compliance by observation, inspections, surveys, audits and data reviews
  • Build situational awareness across the team by reporting safety accomplishments, trends and concerns
  • Conduct workplace accident and incident investigations to identify opportunities for improvement
  • Conducting hazard vulnerability studies to identify potential hazards and recommend prevention or solutions
  • Designing and updating safety programs as conditions, resources and scope of work evolves
  • Document all safety activities and responses for any complaints filed and/or inspections
  • Stay up to date on professional literature, network with peers and review OSHA notifications to sharpen knowledge and identify new requirements
  • Work with leadership and employees to identify training needs and sources of expertise

To learn more about CSU’s safety degree programs and certificates, visit