'Tis the season for safety reflections

Eldeen Pozniak
The craziness of the holiday season is officially underway. Personally and professionally, this is a time of reflection to look at the past year and plan for change. Many people do this with New Year's resolutions. January has always been the month of reflection and change. It was named after the Roman god of gates and doorways, Janus, who was often depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions — one back and one forward. 

We, just like Janus, need to look through the 2014-15 doorway and make some decisions within our professional and personal lives. It's the time to reflect and forward think: We look at our safety system successes and failures. We ponder the initiatives that went sideways. We have said goodbye to some old employees and welcomed in some new ones. We have hit goals and objective, and missed goals and objectives. You have loved your job as a safety professional, but there were times when you questioned who you are and what you are doing. And on Jan. 1, you start again for another year, and the question that we as safety professionals need to ponder is what do we want to change in 2015?

There are a couple of things to think about on a personal basis that can help us in the professional realm:

•Manage your batteries: Running a safety program, dealing with issues and concerns, selling your next initiative or control can drain your physical and emotional batteries to the point that you feel safety professional fatigue or, even worse, burnout. You are not a superhero with superpowers, but a real life human with real life limitations. Stress does seem to be part of the safety person's job. So think about what you need to change in your work and workload. If you had to focus your attention on only high-value work, what would you let go and what would you do? What do you need to do to recharge your batteries and where is that planned for in your 2015?

•Get your balance: If you’re all work and no play, you really need to rethink how you manage your time. Personal time management is a discipline. I have worked the long days and still tend to, but think about what high-value items you need to focus your time on and what can be shared. What is your plan to work more efficiently and effectively this year to recapture time for you?

•Tune up your voice: As a leader for safety, your voice is the voice of safety within your organization, for your client or for the profession. How you communicate, both verbally and through body language speaks volumes about you. What disciplines are you practicing to ensure your communicated intent is clear and the best safety leader in you is showing up every day?

•Stay passionate: If there is one thing I hope I never lose, it is my passion for the work I do. At times I am frustrated with my work and the people I work with, and it tries to get the best of me, but then my passion regains. How are you protecting your passion's "spark" from being extinguished in 2015? What are you doing to keep the flames burning and fuel your passion?

•Clarity takes work: Take some time to have clarity on where you are taking the safety management system. People fight for and bring their best game to achieve an objective that is worthy and specific. You need to be able to describe your vision, goals, objectives and change initiatives in a way that inspires others to go on that journey with you. If not, you have work to do going into 2015.

Eldeen Pozniak is a Canadian Registered Safety Professional, a Certified Health and Safety Consultant, a certified health and safety management system auditor, and a chartered member of the U.K.-based Institution of Occupational Safety and Health. She is a past president of the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering and president elect of the International Network of Safety and Health Practitioner Organizations. She is the president and owner of Diggins Safety Consulting, and the director of Pozniak Safety Associates.