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Changing the Way People Think about Risk

You as a Safety Professional
by ckilbourne

Today, we introduce you to another hard-working, successful safety professional who as a risk manager has to cover all the bases.

Steve NyBlom has a huge job as risk manager for approximately 100,000 Los Angeles County employees. “I manage a group of about 80 risk management staff members who cover functions like safety, workers’ compensation and liability claims, insurance purchasing, disability, and managing third-party claims.”

One of his top professional achievements has been to help change the way people think about risk across this large and diverse workplace. Today, risk is a subject that’s addressed at every level in the organization, not typical, he says, of public agencies.

Positive Direction

NyBlom believes more people now see the value of safety and health, and the proof is in the allocations.

“In California we’ve been in a tight budget situation for years, and there’s an awareness of the fact that dollars we spend on risk-related issues are dollars we don’t have to spend on other things.”

Employers looking to save money are seeing a positive return on investments in worker well-being, however. As a result both public and private organizations are focusing on steps to reduce the cost of insuring their workers. Recognition of the value in protection is good for the safety profession, says NyBlom.


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In Los Angeles County, for example, leaders are looking to the risk management department to save money and add value. A few years ago, the county requested that NyBlom and his staff completely restructure safety and risk management activities within the county’s hospitals and community health centers.

Walk It, Talk It

Bridging technical knowledge with business acumen is essential to NyBlom’s ability to succeed in a $22 billion organization. Like Tara Falin of Cummins, Inc., (see yesterday’s Advisor), he became active in the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) early in his career. Taking on leadership roles, he says, helped him become familiar with the business end of his profession.

He’s learned over the years when to present a technical argument and when to address the business or human motivation for a program or new hire.

“Someone needs to be taking on the ‘selling’ function, and if you don’t have the underlying technical knowledge, you may lack the credibility to talk to executives,” says NyBlom. “You can’t just say ‘let me bring in my staffers to explain.’”

Asked for tips on professional advancement, NyBlom advises not focusing too early on one industry or segment. Rather, try to develop a “big view of things” and avoid the isolation that can result from an overly narrow organization.


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Ready-Made Checklists

Checklists are a safety professional’s best friend. They help ensure that proper measures are being taken to identify and eliminate hazards and protect employee safety and health.

BLR’s Safety Audit Checklists provides safety and health checklists on more than 50 essential workplace topics, to help you manage risks, prevent accidents, and protect employees.

Each Safety Audit Checklists section contains:

  • A review of applicable OSHA standards
  • Safety management tips
  • Training requirements
  • At least one comprehensive safety checklist

Many sections also contain a compliance checklist, which highlights key provisions of OSHA standard. All checklists can be copied and circulated to supervisors and posted for employees.

All told, this best-selling program provides you with more than 300 separate safety checklists keyed to three main criteria:

  • OSHA compliance checklists, built right from the government standards in such key areas as HazCom, lockout/tagout, electrical safety, and many more.
  • “Plaintiff attorney” checklists, built around those non-OSHA issues that often attract lawsuits.
  • Safety management checklists that monitor the administrative procedures you need to have for topics such as OSHA 300 Log maintenance, training program scheduling and recording, and OSHA-required employee notifications. 

Make as many copies as you need for all your supervisors and managers, and distribute. What’s more, the entire program is updated annually. And the cost averages only about $1 per checklist.

If this method of ensuring a safer, more OSHA-compliant workplace interests you, we’ll be happy to make Safety Audit Checklists available for a no-cost, no-obligation, 30-day evaluation in your office. Just let us know, and we’ll be pleased to arrange it.

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