Highlights from ASSP Safety 2022: The Intersection of HR and Safety
Imagine a group of 5,000 people dedicated to the health and safety of employees gathering in one space. ASSP (American Society of Safety Professionals) held their Safety 2022 conference and expo in Chicago, and we experienced three days of thought-leadership, industry expertise, and unique ideas supporting the mission.
As a first-time attendee, I was excited to see what the safety industry was talking about in the concurrent break-out sessions. I have attended many HR and Training Industry events in the past, so I was very curious about the topics at a safety conference. Most of the sessions covered topics you would expect. Things like incident reporting, risk management, and general safety challenges.
With HSI’s growth through acquisition strategy, we have a unique offering blending safety training with soft skills, industrial skills, first aid, HR training topics, and more. The sessions I attended covered areas where HR and soft skills overlap with safety training.
Here are a few concurrent session highlights.
Lead Like Lasso: Developing Your Next Generation Leadership Star
Wyatt Bradbury and Gabe Encarnacion
Wyatt and Gabe avoided the typical PowerPoint presentation and used a mind-mapping tool to illustrate their points. The popular TV show, Ted Lasso, provided a creative link to leadership lessons and how to manage and motivate your rookies, your veterans, and your emerging leaders.
- Sam, the rookie. In the show, Sam needs help building his confidence. He needs encouragement, mentoring, and reassurance from his manager. He could use training to help build confidence, have a growth mindset, and request feedback.
- Roy Kent, the veteran. Roy is the aging leader character. He is frustrated that his body is giving out and he leads with fear and anger. Roy could use training to help him learn empathy, emotional intelligence, and give feedback.
- Nate, the sleeper. Nate is the long-time equipment manager who has quietly been paying attention to every detail and surprises the organization with his expertise. He would benefit from DISC training, management style development, and assertive communication.
Wyatt and Gabe led a call to action to everyone in the room to be better managers and look for opportunities to develop their teams. The speakers talked about soft skills, coaching, mentoring, employee engagement, and empowerment: terms you typically hear at an HR or training industry conference.
An interesting thing about this session is that we have a related blog post “Be a Better Manager and Coach with 5 Lessons from Ted Lasso.”
The Silent Epidemic: Mental Health in Construction
John W. Westman and Erika Tollefson
In the past year, employee mental health and resilience has been a major focus at the HR and training conferences I have attended. I was curious to see how the safety industry might address the same issues. It makes a lot of sense to link mental wellness with safety. If employees are distracted, worried, or depressed while operating heavy machinery, climbing ladders, or working with electricity, the risks of injury must increase.
Both speakers work with Marsh McLennan Agency. They offer extensive construction industry services, and they shared some startling statistics which immediately grabbed our attention.
- Males die by suicide four times the rate of females.
- There has been a 45% increase in overdose counts since the pandemic began.
- 77% of adults want their employer to offer help with mental health.
- Every year there are 400 fall fatalities in construction, compared to 4,000 deaths by suicide.
These numbers made me think about my dad who is a retired sheet metal worker. He is still dealing with painful back issues but, luckily, he has never been dependent on opioids. Offering a construction wellness initiative makes a lot of sense but it is not yet at the top of the list with other safety initiatives.
The speakers made the case to help keep employees safe at home and work. They talked about overall wellness in multiple categories that overlap at home and work: financial, social, physical, and mental. This concept aligns with HSI’s whole-person approach to training. This starts with traditional safety and compliance training, and it extends beyond job-related topics.
How Equity Drives Safety Forward:
Exploring the “E” in DEI
Panelists: Chia-Chia Chang, Kahlilah Guyah, Ricky Gonzales
Moderator: Hector M. Escarcega
Requests for information about DEI training have greatly increased over the last few years via the HSI website, so I was excited to see a general session dedicated to the topic and how it applies to safety training. I was surprised to see the general session room was not even half full. I think we have some work to do to link DEI initiatives to health and safety. The panel really hit the mark with their focus on the “E” in DEI.
Equity recognizes that individuals or groups may need different experiences or resources to achieve the same or similar outcomes. The panel started with a simple example to explain the difference between equity and equitable.
Picture three people of different heights standing behind a fence. Equality means everyone is given the same twelve-inch box to stand on to see over the fence. Equity means each person is given the right size box to stand on to see over the fence.
Another example the panel discussed was the topic of dyslexia. If we know that 20% of the population has dyslexia, we can assume that members of our workforce have this learning disability. How does that change how you deliver training? Think about the content on written warning labels and safety posters.
The speakers also explored the topic of psychological safety. This is the shared belief that team members won’t be punished or humiliated for speaking up with new ideas, questions, or concerns. If employees don’t feel empowered to speak up and offer a solution, there is a problem. Especially when it comes to safety.
Where Does HSI Fit In?
The fact that sessions at a marquee safety event are beginning to overlap with HR training topics is a good sign. Safety managers could benefit from training in leadership, communications, mental wellness, DEI, and more. Perhaps the industry is starting to expand the idea of safety to include topics typically associated with HR.
HSI is well positioned to complement your internal training efforts with our award-winning off-the-shelf training, LMS, and safety technology platform. We can work with your HR and safety managers to create a training program that makes your team smarter and safer. Learn more about our safety training and employee training and development solutions.