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By: Stacey Godbold

Instructor, Teacher, Coach or Cop: Which Kind of Safety Professional Are You?

In a recent conversation I had with Doug Bing, he outlined a fascinating framework that we can use for understanding safety. According to Doug, there are four types of safety professionals. You can listen to our podcast episode for a full exploration of these four types (see below). That said, I’ve also summarized them here. 

Of the following, which type of safety professional are you? 

(1) If you’re someone who mostly does one-way communication with people, and you have short-term students, then you’re probably an “Instructor.” 

(2) If you’re someone who imparts safety knowledge on more of a longer basis, with a broader range of subjects, then you’re probably a “Teacher.” 

(3) If you’re a mixture of an “Instructor” and a “Teacher,” yet you invest a lot of time and effort repeating the fundamentals of safety with your students, then you’re probably a “Coach.” 

(4) If you’re more of a disciplanarian or an enforcer, and you like to find infractions and non-conforming behavior, then you’re probably a “Cop.” 

Doug Bing is the safety superintendent at the Hope Concrete Company, a family-owned concrete supplier in Texas. His company works on heavy civil projects (e.g. pipelines, viaducts, power plants, etc.) and residential projects ( house foundations, driveways, patios, etc.) 

Doug knows a thing or two about safety. Indeed, he transitioned into the safety profession after experiencing a traumatic industrial accident. Now, Doug’s goal is to help others. 

So, getting back to his four types of safety professionals. My take on his categories is that it’s beneficial for safety professionals to know when we should be one of them (and not the others). Basically, it’s a case-by-case thing. Some examples: 

  • If you’ve got a new coworker who is straight out of school, maybe it’s best for you to adopt an “Instructor” personality so you can effectively teach them the basics of safety.
  • If you’ve got an experienced coworker, and you plan to work deeply with them over a long period of time, it’s probably best for you to assume the “Teacher” persona.
  • If there’s going to be extensive on-site training (as opposed to classroom training), you’ll probably want to embody the “Coach” safety role.
  • If you’re on a jobsite that has lots of unruly workers who are ignoring safety procedures, it’d be best to play the safety “Cop” function.  

Additionally, my view is that it’s really helpful for us to understand how people we work with experience us. For instance, if you think you’re being a “Coach,” but many workers on the job site actually experience you as  a “Cop,” then you’ve got to address that discrepancy, pronto.  

Be sure to connect with Doug Bing on LinkedIn and to check out our episode! 

Subscribe to the podcast: 

* Apple Podcasts

* Spotify

* Google Podcasts 

Connect with Stacey Godbold on LinkedIn 

This episode was produced by Story On Media & Marketing:


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