Special Topics in Safety Management

Social Media for Safety Professionals

Yesterday, we talked about mobile apps for safety professionals. Today, we focus on potential benefits of social media.

Pam Walaski, certified safety professional and regional manager for EHS services at Compliance Management International, says that social media have had a significant impact on the safety profession. She cites three main impacts:

1. Professional development and networking. Social media can enhance professional development and networking through social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn®.

Walaski explains, that using social media is about engaging and connecting with people you may never meet face-to-face, but can share and ask questions of. “Then, down the road, if you’re job hunting, you’ve got all those connections.”

These sites are especially valuable for safety professionals who work alone and for those who have limited funding for conferences and professional development.

2. Communication with stakeholders. A second vital role of social media is to help safety pros conduct risk and crisis communications with stakeholders. An example is the Facebook page that popped up as a winter storm bore down on unprepared Atlanta in late January. The page attracted 46,000 users in 1 day, connecting those in need of help with people willing to assist.


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3. Sharing information with colleagues. Walaski says social media also offers a way to get and share relevant information about safety and health on a daily basis. While print publications remain essential, the immediacy of social media is a big part of its appeal. When social media is used as it is intended—as a two-way source of communication—“it can make us all better at what we do,” Walaski adds.

Challenges

Inexperience with social media is a problem for some safety professionals. Walaski encourages those who want to get involved with digital tools not to hide behind inexperience. Look for a knowledgeable (probably younger) colleague who can help you get started.

Another challenge for safety pros who want to do more with digital technology is what Walaski calls “overly restrictive” corporate policies governing social media and account passwords.

Walaski says many states now prohibit companies from requiring employees to provide their passwords to management. She says some people may choose not to enter the social media scene for fear of running afoul of management policies.

And finally, while some employees fear being considered backward or tech-phobic, Walaski says, “There’s also a concern about appearing to be one of those people who’s always got a phone in their face.” Not surprisingly, her advice is to strike a balance—use technology to your advantage without letting it overtake your job or your life.


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Another Great Web Resource

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