Industrial Safety: The Role of Leadership and Management

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Introduction

The role of leadership and management is often underestimated in industrial safety. Companies think about the working conditions and safety equipment but often forget about the employees’ proper organization and safety training. Thus, safety leaders can establish the right standards and values in the manufacture and ensure that all safety requirements are followed. The components of the Applied Technology degree combined with industrial technologies and safety management systems can be used together to create a successful and safe organization. This research paper aims to examine the role of management and leadership, computer applications and web-based tools, and applied technologies in health protection and industrial safety.

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Being a good leader means facing daily challenges with dignity and helping the employees solve their problems without any great losses. Moreover, the role of a leader is to cultivate a culture of safety, demonstrating to the workers how they can maintain their safe practices and healthy working environment.

A safety leader or manager should understand and follow all safety practices, report safety issues, and prevent possible workplace incidents. Injury management and decision-making processes related to industrial safety are the parts of a safety leader’s responsibilities. Besides, safety managers can use modern technologies and teach the employees how to preserve safe and healthy working practices. Still, although safety and health training and education are important for workplace safety, such elements as management leadership, computer tools, and applied technologies are crucial for creating a safe working environment in the manufacturing industry.

The Role of Management and Leadership in Industrial Safety

A manager differs from a leader in their approach to the employees. Managers usually plan and control the working processes, while leaders inspire and motivate others to contribute to the organization’s success. Both roles are essential for industrial safety because each of these roles helps to maintain a healthy and safe environment and minimize injuries and fatalities in different ways. However, most importantly, a manager should possess the qualities of a great leader to establish and control health and safety regulations and policies effectively.

Injury Management as an Integral Part of Safety and Health Practices

Every employer wants to have healthy and productive employees who will bring financial benefits to the company. Therefore, maintaining a safe environment is essential for the manufacturing industries because it will help minimize injuries, fatalities, and illnesses. Safe and healthy working conditions motivate the employees, increase their morale, and reduce absenteeism (Taufek et al., 2016). In comparison, those employees who work in dangerous situations and get injured at manufacture will be less productive and willing to continue their work there. Thus, injury management is a vital element of health and safety practices in the manufacturing.

Injury management can reduce injuries and fatalities and promote safe working conditions in an organization. According to Taufek et al. (2016), injury management is “one of the safety and health’s tools in order to manage workplace injuries and accidents with support by legislation” (p. 708). The main responsibilities of an injury manager are training and supervision, consultation, reporting safety, safe work procedures, and management commitment (Taufek et al., 2016). These responsibilities require a manager to possess such fundamental business skills as leadership, communication, negotiation, project management and planning, problem-solving, decision-making, and networking.

If an injury manager has good communication skills, they will solve different safety cases quickly and effectively. For example, if a worker gets injured, a manager will have to report the issue to the employer immediately and ensure that the worker receives medical treatment. Collaboration of the three parties (a worker, a medical practitioner, and an employer) should be organized properly to satisfy each participant. Only a well-trained manager can achieve the best results and guarantee preserving health and safety practices in the future.

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Proper Leadership Philosophy as the Earnest of Success

Not every manager can deal with industrial safety issues. A good safety manager should be a good leader, which means that they should be able to find the best solution to any problem. According to Collins and Hansen (2011), a good leader does not wait until a storm to realize that they need more strength and fortitude. On the contrary, the authors write: “You prepare with intensity, all the time, so that when conditions turn against you, you can draw from a deep reservoir of strength.

And equally, you prepare so that when conditions turn in your favor, you can strike hard” (Collins & Hansen, 2011, p. 15). This statement means that a good leader tries to develop their skills and learn something new regardless of the conditions. In comparison, a bad leader does not train their skills until the negative event strikes them and makes them find the way out. One can see that a suitable leadership philosophy is significant for the preclusion of work-related injuries and the formation of a safe and healthy environment at work. A good leader will see potential hazards in an organization, remove these hazards and create safer conditions for the employees.

Use of Management Accounting Methods in Decision-Making Processes Related to Industrial Safety

Management accounting is also important for maintaining industrial safety and health. The function of management accounting is “to provide information for internal decision-makers, typically managers” (Tappura et al., 2015, p. 1). This type of accounting differs from financial accounting because the latter delivers data to external users, such as stakeholders and potential clients. Management accounting deals with measuring monetary costs per injury or accident and safety-related investment.

If an organization wants to maintain economic, social, and environmental well-being, it should evaluate all potential benefits of safety-related investments. For example, suppose the company plans to invest in the development of safety applications for every employer. In that case, it will need to calculate all possible costs and potential losses that may occur during the development process. If the company’s financial losses are much higher than potential benefits, the accounting management should reconsider this idea and find a better solution to the problem.

The Use of Modern Computer Tools and Apps for Industrial Safety

In the modern world, computers and web-based applications help people perform different tasks in safer and healthier ways than ever before. The Internet of Things (IoT) and other tools allow safety managers to assess occupational risks and prevent incidents. One can use such applications and programs to gather information from every worker who interacts with them and transmit it to a safety manager for further analysis.

The Role of Smart Objects and Other Web-Based Tools in Creating a Dynamic Risk Model

In any manufacturing organization, people interact with different objects. Those objects, which can gather and exchange information with the environment, are called Smart Objects (Gnoni et al., 2020). These Smart Objects send the data to a digital platform that can be used for safety management and control at a workplace. The examples of such smart technologies used for safety management are “Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), wearable technologies, sensor networks, etc.” (Gnoni et al., 2020, p. 512). A safety manager can use RFID or BLE technologies to ensure faster traceability of people and items at manufacture.

The Internet of Things (IoT) systems have several functions aimed at the detection and prevention of occupational and industrial risks. Their main functions include identifying equipment at a workplace, defining its actual aging with the help of virtual sensors, and managing possible alerts that might occur during unsafe activities through wearable technologies and workplace sensors (Gnoni et al., 2020). Safety managers can use such systems to supervise working conditions and monitor hazardous activities in real time. Moreover, workers could also have admittance to such systems to receive information about potential hazards and issues with the equipment in a real-time workplace. All these devices and applications will help industries sustain a safe and healthy setting and prevent injuries and deaths at work.

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A Cloud-Based Tool for Assessing Potential Occupational Risk at Work: The SOLVO Prototype

Effective industrial health and safety management systems are crucial for the successful work of small and medium-sized enterprises. Therefore, modern scientists are constantly trying to create new, more effective tools for assessing potential occupational risk at work. They develop preliminary hazard analysis tools that will support physical risk analysis, analyze the organization’s occupational health and safety (OHS) management system, and improve industrial safety and ensure a healthy work environment. Interestingly, Italian researchers developed the SOLVO web platform to unite all these tools and protect and support an OHS management system (Merich et al., 2020).

This ecosystem consists of two modules: one is for risk assessment, and another one is for risk management. A safety manager has access to the platform, and they can place information related to daily workplace risks and safety problems to the cloud. A safety consultant from the outside of the company receives access to the cloud too, and they can help the company decrease safety-related cases without even attending the workplace.

The main advantage of such cloud-based systems is reduced Internet Technologies (IT) costs. A company can use the resources of cloud computing services instead of buying expensive tools and equipment. Moreover, the company will not need to pay extra wages for a safety staff. Instead, it can hire an expert from outside to evaluate and upgrade the safety system. Besides, cloud-based safety systems will increase the productivity of the employees, thus benefiting the company. For example, many specific tasks can be automated, such as a permit to start work, incident reports, or contacting and managing contractors. All these tasks can be made through cloud-based software, saving time and money and increasing workers’ efficiency and productivity.

Applied Technology as an Essential Part of Workplace Safety

Modern technologies help minimize injuries and fatalities in the manufacturing industry. Although almost every job may be associated with some risk, manufacturing and construction industries experience more injuries and deaths than any other industry. Karakhan and Alsaffar (2019) claim that in 2016, “more than 900 fatalities were reported in the construction industry, yielding an injury rate of about 10” (p. 43). All those fatalities happened due to the limited adoption of technology and poor safety conditions. If the construction industry implemented applied technology in workplaces, the number of incidents would decrease significantly.

Application of Virtual Reality to Enhance Work Quality and Improve Industrial Safety

If the industry needs to improve workplace safety and performance, it should use virtual reality and other applied technologies. Virtual reality can assist safety managers in detecting and eliminating potential hazards before the working process begins. Project teams can use virtual reality planning tools to assess current workplace safety situations and improve team performance outcomes. Team leaders can apply such tools to train the employees and inform them about workplace safety issues.

The study showed that those workers who received virtual reality training performed better than those who were trained conventionally, with the help of visual aids and classroom lectures (Karakhan & Alsaffar, 2019). Thus, one can use virtual reality and augmented reality systems in the construction sphere to produce safety benefits and expand productivity.

Additional technologies that can be helpful in any manufacturing or construction industry are laser scanning, robotics and mechanization, sensors, warning systems, quick response (QR) codes, and building information modeling. Safety managers can incorporate all these technologies into one project and use them to promote communication and teamwork between colleagues, workplace safety, and mitigation of potential risks at work. Although these technologies do not implement virtual or augmented reality, they have a similar purpose and can significantly improve occupational health and safety.

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Work Zone Safety Technologies in Safety Management: Relationships Between Potential Benefits and Fatalities

Work zone accidents and deaths are frequent in the United States of America. According to the Federal Highway Administration, “a work zone fatality occurs every 15 h in the US, while injuries associated with work zone accidents take place every 16 min” (as cited in Nnaji et al., 2020, p. 62). Most of the accidents happen in the construction industry; however, manufacturing industries are also unsafe. Therefore, safety managers were encouraged to use work zone safety technologies to decrease the number of deaths and injuries in the workplace and enhance the employees’ productivity and efficiency.

Work zone safety technologies (WZSTs) can be subdivided into several categories. The first category includes technologies aimed at speed reduction. One can use these technologies in the highway construction industry to reduce the speed of vehicles at work and transition areas. The second category involves “intrusion prevention and warning systems (IPWS)” (Nnaji et al., 2020, p. 66). These technologies prevent other people from interfering in a work zone and warn the employees about the potential intrusion or hazard. Finally, human-machine-interaction detection systems can detect and inform workers and team leaders about collisions between the employees and the machines. An organization can use all these technologies to maintain a safe environment and minimize fatalities and injuries.

To understand the role of WZSTs in industrial safety, one should analyze the relationships between the potential benefits of these technologies and fatalities. According to Nnaji et al. (2020), the adoption and implementation of WZSTs can significantly reduce accidents because of their capacity to minimize the employees’ exposure to hazardous activities. Suppose the potential benefits outweigh the costs needed for the implementation of such technologies. In that case, industries will need to reconsider their safety strategies and regulations and include WZSTs in their workplace safety plans.

Discussion

Safety managers are responsible for establishing safety management systems and maintaining a healthy and safe workplace environment. Although business skills are important for this job, safety managers should combine these skills with computer skills and applied technology components to create a successful organization. Most modern safety and security systems are based on computers and other applied technologies.

Thus, if a manager possesses the necessary computer skills, they will implement the most current technologies and ensure that the staff receives safety training related to these technologies. The role of a safety manager is not only to establish safety policies and performance goals but also to control their implementation, monitor workplace accidents, and adjust policies and technologies accordingly. All the tools and devices mentioned above can make the work of a safety manager easier and improve the employees’ productivity, decreasing fatalities and injuries in the workplace.

At the same time, business skills are also crucial for a good safety manager. Such skills include risk assessment, conflict management, problem-solving skills, conceptual planning ability, leadership skills, knowledge of administrative policies and procedures, and familiarity with financial or accounting methods. If a manager does not have some of these qualities, they will not be able to establish the necessary safety equipment and assess the current work zone safety status in the workplace.

Therefore, if a safety manager wants to attain success in their career, they should develop skills needed for safety professionals. These skills include the ability to identify hidden risks, visual and verbal hazard communication, presentation and training skills, knowledge of budgeting regulatory organizations, and the ability to gather and proceed with data. All these skills, combined with computer skills and the use of modern technologies, will help a safety manager create a successful and safe organization.

Conclusion

Industrial safety is an important element of management activities in every successful company. Safety managers work on reducing, controlling, and eliminating risks from the industries. They can do it in different ways, including training and education of the employees. However, employee training is not enough to maintain safety in the workplace. Having reviewed several elements of industrial safety, one can conclude that the combination of computer tools, applied technologies, and leadership skills can help safety managers create a safe and successful workplace environment.

First, a safety manager should be a good leader to maintain order and safety at work. A good leader can prevent accidents and deaths by decreasing risks to the minimum. Moreover, a good leader will not wait until the accident happens. On the contrary, they will promote safe workplaces and continuously educate the employees. A great leader will also utilize different modern technologies and web-based tools to save costs and time and ensure a healthy and safe environment.

Cloud-based tools and various smart objects will help the leader observe the situation in different work zones and quickly prevent the hazards. Applied technologies, combined with business and accounting skills, can work together to generate a efficacious organization. They will enable safety audits, surveys, and inspection, making these processes fast and easy. In conclusion, the role of modern technologies in industrial safety should not be underestimated because these technologies, along with leadership skills, create a well-functioning safety management system and lead an organization to success.

References

Collins, J., & Hansen, M. T. (2011). Great by choice: Uncertainty, chaos, and luck – why some thrive despite them all. Harper Business.

Gnoni, M.G., Bragatto, P.A., Milazzo, M.F., & Setola, R. (2020). Integrating IoT technologies for an “intelligent” safety management in the process industry. Procedia Manufacturing, 42, 511-515. Web.

Karakhan, A., & Alsaffar, O. (2019). Technology’s role in safety management. Professional Safety Journal, 64(1), 43-45. Web.

Merich, D.D., Gnoni, M.G., Malorgio, B., Micheli, G.J., Piga, G., Sala, G., & Tornese, F. (2020). A cloud-based tool for integrating occupational risk assessment within management systems for SMEs. Safety, 6(47), 1-13. Web.

Nnaji, C., Gambatese, J., Lee, H.W., & Zhang, F. (2019). Improving construction work zone safety using technology: A systematic review of applicable technologies. Journal of Traffic and Transportation Engineering (English Edition), 7(1), 61-75. Web.

Tappura, S., Sievänen, M., Heikkilä, J., Jussila, A., & Nenonen, N. (2015). A management accounting perspective on safety. Safety Science, 71, 151-159. Web.

Taufek, F.H., Zulkifle, Z.B., & Kadir, S.Z. (2016). Safety and health practices and injury management in manufacturing industry. Procedia Economics and Finance, 35, 705-712. Web.

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BusinessEssay. "Industrial Safety: The Role of Leadership and Management." July 12, 2022. https://business-essay.com/industrial-safety-the-role-of-leadership-and-management/.