Bob Shinholt is the senior safety and environmental compliance manager at ALOFT AeroArchitects which, as PATS Aircraft Systems, was named one of America’s Safest Companies in 2015. He has been a safety/environmental compliance professional since 1993.

He will be one of the presenters at the 2016 Safety Leadership Conference in Pittsburgh, Sept. 19-21. His session – part of the Safety and Risk Management Track – is titled “Cornerstones to Building a Successful Safety Culture,” and here he offers us a sneak peak at what he plans to talk about.

EHS Today: Can you offer us a description of your topic and how it relates to safety leadership? 

Bob Shinholt: Building an effective safety culture within your organization is only possible with support from the organization’s leadership, but it begins with the organization’s safety leader understanding the “cornerstones” that make up a safety culture. Key factors such as effective communication and training, building relationships and trust, and having an accessible hazard reporting system to the employees, to name a few, differentiates a company that is inherently safe from one that is inherently unsafe.

EHS Today: Why is that topic of interest to you and why is it important to Safety Leadership Conference attendees? Can you share an example of a personal or professional experience you’ve had related to the topic?

Bob Shinholt: You can’t have effective safety programs if there isn’t a “buy-in” by every employee, from the CEO/president down to the last employee hired.  A true safety culture ensures every employee has the best chance of going home to their families at the end of a workday injury-free. 

Part of a safety culture stresses the importance for safety leaders to build professional relationships with the entire team, letting every employee know they are important. When I first started with my current employer as the company’s safety specialist, folks out on the floor thought the safety manager had died or had retired because he always stayed in his office.    

EHS Today: What are the takeaways you hope to leave with attendees?

Bob Shinholt: That a safety program can’t be sales rhetoric, but that a culture of safety throughout the organization is critical to having effective safety programs that pay big dividends to EVERYONE in an organization, from experiencing fewer injuries to increased savings … a true win-win.

EHS Today: What do you think are some of the most pressing EHS and risk management issues facing corporate leaders and safety professionals in 2016 and beyond?

Bob Shinholt: With the downfall in some industries, resources (funding) for adequate PPE and other safety programs may be threatened/diminished to meet budget deadlines. Also, cellphones continue to cause distractions in the workplace and on the highways. With the legalization of marijuana in some states, this is sure to affect using employees on the job.

EHS Today: How will this session help attendees be a better resource for their employers?

Bob Shinholt: Attendees should be able to walk away from this session with some good ideas on how to enhance their safety programs and to help create/improve an effective safety culture in the workplace.

The Safety Leadership Conference offers a full agenda of plant and construction site safety tours, four tracks of educational sessions, keynote speakers, a celebration of America's Safest Companies and networking opportunities.