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by Dan Newby 

March 6, 2022

Safety coaching in the workplace is often confused with safety training, safety consulting, safety advising, safety management, or safety mentoring and it requires specific skills to be effective.

Here are the Top 5 Myths About Safety Coaching in the Workplace

  1. Safety coaching  is just sharing expertise
  2. Safety coaching is fixing someone’s behavior
  3. Safety coaching is just asking questions
  4. Safety coaching doesn’t require any specific skills
  5. Safety coaching is only for senior leaders

Here is a Comparison of Safety Coaching in the Workplace With Other Types of Learning Methods

Types of Learning


Provider's Requirement

Client's Need

Safety Training

To impart knowledge


Store Name

Safety Consulting

To give a strategy for direction


Need for strategic direction

Safety Advising

To tell how best to do something


Need for action steps

Safety Management

To implement processes and procedures


Need for leadership

Safety Mentoring

To share experience

Relevant Experience

Need for perspective

Safety Coaching

To change one's risk perception

Being a trained observer

Need for change

What is Safety Coaching?

The term “coaching” originated in the mid-1800s and meant “to tutor or help prepare someone for an exam or contest.” Since then, coaching has evolved into one of the most effective learning tools we have. Today, coaching is no longer focused on teaching but has evolved into a creative process that helps people reach greater potential.

Fundamentally, safety coaching is a series of conversations that challenges beliefs and assumptions that offers alternative perspectives. Most people believe that reality exists “out there.” Coaching is based on the idea that reality is a way of seeing and interpreting the world. Thus, a desire to change to improve safety must come from the inside out. Human behavior is learned which means that all behaviors can be unlearned, and new behaviors learned in their place.

The need for coaching arises when the employee has a serious challenge which, in the context of safety, could be anything from not reporting incidents, inability to ensure compliance, at-risk behavior, reducing incident rates or the need to shift away from a blame culture. Most of these breakdowns have severe consequences and can be life-threatening. That is what makes safety coaching different from coaching a leader for financial performance or other business objectives. Precision matters in safety coaching because there is zero tolerance for errors in many high-reliability organizations. 

Why Safety Training Alone is Not Sufficient to Create a Culture of Safety

Safety training is primarily a cognitive learning process based on information and reasoning. However, most of our decisions are not purely logical, and many times we act irrationally. Safety training may inspire people and change behavior momentarily, but later they may revert to old habits.

Want to Become a Great Safety Coach? Check Out Our Online Training Course.

Certificate of Mastery in Safety Coaching

Safety Coaching involves helping employees see safety differently and developing new habits through practice. Being a safety leader means being responsible for declaring enhanced safety levels and enrolling followers to support your organization's vision. Through Safety Coaching, you can actively engage your team's whole being in your safety leadership and not just talking about it.

About the author 

Dan Newby

Dan is a professional certified coach, coach trainer and author with more than 20 years of experience in coaching and training coaches. He has more than 7500 hours of coaching experience and has trained thousands of coaches worldwide. He has trained and coached safety leaders and teams from high-reliability industries such as Aerospace and Chemical Manufacturing.