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Resolution #3: Empowering Your Supervisors

- July 18, 2017 by Leslie Stoll, CSP, ARM (View all posts by Leslie)

Imagine you are a restaurant manager. Ideally, your job is to make sure things run smoothly. To do this, you make sure everyone is trained, that the facility is maintained properly and unexpected situations are handled correctly. You will step in only when staff is unable to resolve a situation. Your staff is doing most of the daily work. A safety manager’s role is similar – they manage, while the front line supervisors do the bulk of the hands-on work; however, this cannot happen if you do not give your supervisors authority to make decisions. In this blog I will discuss how to get your supervisors to take control of safety.

Interview & Skills Assessment

One key step is to make sure your supervisor promotion or hiring process includes a thorough interview and skills assessment. Longevity at the company often leads to someone being promoted to a supervisor level, but longevity does not always make that person a qualified supervisor. What are your safety expectations for a supervisor? Are they clearly defined in writing and clearly communicated to all supervisors? Do you provide any specific training for new supervisors?

Safety Policy Statement

One simple technique to help supervisor understand the importance of safety at your company is for senior management to create a safety policy statement. Your ICW Group Risk Management Consultant can provide you with sample policies or you can check out this link from OSHA.

Set Specific Goals

Most importantly, you need to give your supervisor a chance to succeed in making decisions about safety.  Have you ever told your supervisors to “make sure everyone is working safe” or “don’t let anything unsafe happen.” “Safety” is a very broad term and giving your supervisors such broad tasks makes it hard to see the successes. Change your statement to something more specific like “Today, make sure all the machine guard are in place” or “Today, make sure everyone is lifting properly.” A focused goal is easy to accomplish and easier to track and compliment on. Assigning a focused task to supervisors and following up on their progress throughout the week will give you the chance to recognize their efforts and motivate them to take more actions towards improving safety.

Stay tuned for my blog on resolution #4 – Learn Everyone’s Name.