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Supervising for health & safety

Supervisors play an important role in promoting and maintaining workplace safety. Their words and actions demonstrate how they view and value health and safety. The supervisor's attitude influences how workers approach and practice safety on the job; to them the supervisor's attitude reflects the company's values.

A supervisor is anyone who instructs, directs, and controls workers as they carry out their work tasks. This could include owners, managers, superintendents, charge hands, lead hands, foremen, department heads, journeymen, and trainers.

Supervisors are well-positioned to be safety champions. Effective supervisors are intentional and purposeful in promoting health and safety. They should perform regular safety activities, such as inspections, observations, investigations, or crew talks. Other activities may be linked to annual departmental safety plans.

Some routine safety-related actions supervisors may take include:

  • Providing workers with training before they undertake new tasks
  • Verifying workers' performance meets safety expectations
  • Correcting improper and unsafe work activities and conditions
  • Identifying any new workplace hazards and taking steps to ensure everyone stays safe
  • Reinforcing safe and proper work performance
  • Recording a daily entry in a supervisor journal or log book
  • Ensuring all documentation is clear, appropriate, and frequent, showing a systematic approach to safety

By measuring whether workers are meeting health and safety expectations and completing required activities, you can help drive and embed safety as an organizational value. The demonstration by supervisors of how important health and safety is will then be passed on to the workforce.

Supervising for Safety is an online course that helps supervisors understand the importance of their role in workplace safety.