Ready to supervise others’ safety?

September 13, 2012

Photo credit: Global Crop Diversity Trust on Flickr

“All too often, supervisory tasks are imposed on employees without considering the nature of those new responsibilities. This results in giving a new job to someone who does not have the skills or knowledge to do it,” says Earl Galavan, OHS Advisor for SafetyDriven – the Trucking Safety Council of BC.

In this blog post, Earl asks some important questions about how employers can be sure their new supervisors understand due diligence.

“Has your new supervisor ever instructed anyone? Do they know how to evaluate competence and set standards that promote the company safety policy?

“When there is instructing to be done, has anyone taken the time to show the new supervisor how to record who was trained and in what?” Earl asks. “They need to know why all this documentation is important and how it serves to establish your due diligence.”

Due diligence

The standard of due diligence is defined as “taking all reasonable care to protect the well-being of employees or co-workers,” according to this Due Diligence checklist from WorkSafeBC.

According to the Due Diligence checklist, supervisors must:

  • Receive training to perform their safety and health responsibilities
  • Give crew talks/conduct safety meetings
  • Participate in inspections
  • Conduct incident/accident investigations
  • Take action to correct reported hazards
  • Conduct orientation
  • Conduct on-the-job training
  • Evaluate training to ensure that it is effective
  • Monitor work conditions and practices in areas where they have responsibility
  • Correct employees not following rules and procedures
  • Keep records of progressive discipline
  •  Have OH&S considered as an element in their performance evaluation

That’s a tall order. Without the skills listed above, a supervisor will not be ready to take on the important job of managing others’ safety. Below are some resources that will help prepare new supervisors – and, if you have any to share, please let me know.

Supervising for safety – a free, online course for supervisors from WorkSafeBC

How to deliver a crew talk from WorkSafeBC

Managing safety from the supervisor’s perspective


3 Responses to “Ready to supervise others’ safety?”

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  1. Your post raised an important point. Every one of us goes through the point when we lack experience. However everyone has to start somewhere. And in order to minimize the risk of granting supervisory responsibilities to a person who actually “does not have the skills or knowledge” to do the job, every possible step has to be taken to minimize this gap. And this is where your resources to prepare supervisors come in handy. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Gamaliel says:

    Often times Supervisors are just assigned to a job that they are not capable of managing especially worker’s safety…the old concept that safety personnel looks after the safety of the workers need to drastically changed but it does not take overnight to do that…it starts from the top. Integrating safety to the Supervisor’s role and taking accountability to the safety of the workers and work environment would be a big leap and the due diligence checklist would be the first step to capture this safety accountability of Supervisors. Thanks for this valuable information and I would like your permission to share it with my colleagues.

  3. Susan says:

    Thanks. And yes please do share with your colleagues!