SH&E professionals understand the need to change with the times. In the 100+ years that we have been in the forefront of shaping the landscape of the workplace, our roles and responsibilities have expanded beyond safety into environmental, industrial hygiene, security, and sustainability. We've had to rethink the importance of prevention through design and learn how to engage both the workforce and upper management into a mutual effort to move the needle on the safety culture of our organization. We've had to learn how to talk the business side of our roles in order to communicate with the C-Suite. So, along with all of the changes we've embraced, I suggest it is now time for SH&E professionals to embrace a new way of communicating with our audiences—social media.
Social media is undoubtedly an integral part of business operations and is now in common usage for essential product launches, developing consumer loyalty, and sharing organizational news. Citizen journalists use social media to provide instantaneous information to their followers and the general public, often hours ahead of traditional media.
SH&E professionals understand the power of communicating with their audiences, be it the internal workforce, organizational management, vendors/suppliers, community members, or any one of a myriad of groups that rely on fast, frequent, and accurate messages to relate to and understand the organization they represent. Given that their audiences and the organizations they work for are using social media at an increasing rate, it is critical for SH&E professionals to do the same as they strive to continually add value.
A recent survey by the American Red Cross found that social media sites are the fourth most popular places that adults go to obtain information during an emergency.1 It follows that it is no longer a matter of whether SH &E professionals should utilize social media to communicate within their organizations and to their audiences, but how and with what platforms.