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Safety Director vs. Safety Manager: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A safe workplace is essential for any business. To ensure employees are working in a safe environment, many companies appoint a safety director or safety manager. Both of these positions are responsible for developing and implementing safety policies, but there are some key differences between them. In this article, we explain the duties of a safety director and a safety manager, and we discuss the similarities and differences between the two positions.

What is a Safety Director?

A Safety Director is responsible for developing, implementing and monitoring safety programs in an organization to ensure compliance with government regulations and industry best practices. They conduct safety audits, investigate accidents and incidents, and develop corrective action plans. Safety Directors also create and deliver safety training programs, and they may serve on safety committees. They work closely with other departments, such as Human Resources and Operations, to ensure that safety policies are communicated and followed. Safety Directors typically have a bachelor’s degree in occupational safety, engineering, or a related field, and they may also have professional certification.

What is a Safety Manager?

Safety Managers are responsible for developing and implementing safety policies and procedures within their organization. They work with other managers to identify potential safety hazards and risks, and then they develop and implement plans to mitigate those risks. Safety Managers also conduct regular safety audits and inspections to ensure that policies are being followed and hazards are being properly addressed. They investigate accidents and incidents to determine root causes and prevent future occurrences. Safety Managers also develop training programs to educate employees on safety policies and procedures.

Safety Director vs. Safety Manager

Here are the main differences between a safety director and a safety manager.

Job Duties

Safety directors oversee the entire safety department, which means they may work on different projects and focus on different areas of safety. For example, a safety director may research new safety regulations to implement in their company while a safety manager may train employees in those regulations and ensure compliance with them.

Safety managers often have more daily interaction with employees than safety directors do. Safety managers monitor compliance with safety regulations and help resolve issues that arise from noncompliance. They also schedule safety meetings and communicate with employees about safety policies. Safety directors usually review these communications and approve safety management plans before implementation.

Job Requirements

Safety directors and safety managers typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in occupational safety, engineering or another related field. Some employers prefer candidates to have a master’s degree as well, but it is not required for entry-level positions. Additionally, many safety directors and safety managers pursue certifications through the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP). These programs offer training that teaches professionals how to identify and mitigate risks in the workplace.

Work Environment

Safety directors typically work in an office environment, but they may also travel to different locations to ensure that the company is following safety regulations. They often collaborate with other departments and communicate with employees about safety concerns. Safety managers usually spend most of their time on site at a particular location, such as a construction site or manufacturing facility. They oversee all aspects of safety for their team members and make sure that everyone follows safety protocols.


The specific skills used on the job by a safety director and a safety manager can differ depending on the company’s size, industry and location. However, both positions typically require excellent communication skills, as they need to be able to effectively convey safety information to employees, management and other stakeholders. They also both need to have strong organizational skills to develop and implement effective safety plans and programs.

Safety directors may need more advanced skills in areas like risk assessment and hazard analysis, as they are often responsible for developing policies and procedures that minimize risks in the workplace. Safety managers may need to have a more comprehensive understanding of OSHA regulations and compliance issues, as they are often responsible for ensuring that their company is following all relevant safety laws and regulations.


Safety directors can earn an average salary of $102,448 per year, while safety managers can earn an average salary of $83,278 per year. Both of these average salaries may vary depending on the size of the company at which you work, location of your job and the level of experience you have prior to pursuing either position.


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