HR Management & Compliance

Are You Training Supervisors on These 2 Safety Best Practices?

As the key interface between management and line employees, the frontline supervisor is considered by many to play a pivotal part in worker protection. Indeed, Craig Hamelund, a safety specialist and educator with Oregon OSHA, says the agency “holds the position of safety supervisor in the highest regard because they are the primary connection between the workforce and upper management.”
Hamelund recommends training your supervisors on the following best practices in safety supervision.
1. Involve new employees in job hazard analysis. One workplace Hamelund recently visited had developed job hazard analyses (JHAs) for all tasks. JHAs, also known as job safety analyses, detail the steps involved in performing each job safely. The supervisors at this site use JHAs in an innovative way to enhance new-hire training.
As new employees observe a task being performed, they are asked to complete, to the best of their ability, a job hazard analysis, noting the risks associated with each step. The supervisor recognizes that a new employee may lack specific knowledge of the task and the hazards. But asking the worker to prepare a JHA gives the supervisor a baseline understanding of what that person knows. Next, the employee meets with the supervisor who compares the JHA with the “official” hazard analysis in place for that job. The comparison reveals gaps in understanding.

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While the practice benefits the new hire, Hamelund says it also helps the supervisor to identify strengths and weaknesses in the worker’s safety knowledge. In some cases, a new employee will bring valuable insight from a past job, which may be shared during the JHA process.
2. Encourage employee ownership. Hamelund also notes a trend toward increased levels of employee ownership, with managers delegating safety supervisory responsibility to the front line. For example, at many sites supervisors are identifying program champions in areas like fall protection, personal protective equipment (PPE), electrical safety, etc. These individuals are specially trained and given supervisory responsibilities. The technique, says Hamelund, “helps solidify the chain of command while getting employees involved.”
This is especially effective in construction workplaces. A quick toolbox talk or tailgate meeting before the workday is valuable. But if you add some employee accountability, such as charging a PPE point person with making sure protective gear is in good working order, the impact is stronger.

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In tomorrow’s Advisor, we’ll get two more best practices on which to train your frontline supervisors.

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