I have had a few people ask about my transition from safety to human resources. Why make that kind of move? What interested me in HR? They are kind of the same but still very different. This is something I have been really thinking about recently. 

First, you should know that I am an inherent problem solver. I also live inside my head . . . a lot. So between the internal dialog and the need to keep reflecting and solving, this idea of “why HR” continues to stick with me. It was only recently that in the middle of a conversation with a friend and colleague that I found my answer. 

Even early on in my career in safety, I knew there was something fundamental about the work. It seemed that even though there were laws to tell me what I should be implementing and maintaining, the right to a safe place to work should be a human right. There are bigger organizational components to a robust and functional safety program. There are critical aspects of a company that if not in place will adversely affect a safety program regards of how competent, dedicated, hard-working, or credentialed the safety person is.

Safety is either accelerated or hindered by:

  • Communication
  • Ethics
  • Funding
  • Leadership
  • Training
  • Medical Benefits
  • Employee Assistance Programs
  • Corporate Values
  • Empowerment

Other than the CEO, which branch of an organization is best suited to guide these principles in a way that enables safety? It would be HR. Many times learning and development, communication, and even safety roll up under the HR organizational structure. It made sense to me at that moment that the reason I accepted my role in HR was to clear that path so that safety could be successful. It is the Maxwell leadership principle of influence.

Through the organizational structure, I would have a chance to change and influence the core building blocks of a strong people-oriented safety program. Only time will tell if I will be successful at what I hope will be a successful experiment in safety systems. What I do know so far is that this is continued proof that safety cannot function alone in an organization. It takes a concentrated organizational effort to provide a safe and healthy workplace. 

Here is my “consolidated theory of safety” 🙂

1) An organization that has the items on the list will have a good safety program.

2) An organization with a good safety program will have [pick an item in the list].


3) Safety is the litmus test for organizational culture.