4 Steps to Superior Safety Supervision

Are you telling your supervisors to make sure nobody gets hurt?

All too often, we think telling our supervisors to achieve safety goals will get the job done. The results, however, indicate that more needs to be done to help our supervisors take all the right steps to achieve our desired end results.

Supervisors need to be given specific instructions on how to fulfil their safety goals, whether that be ‘zero-incident’ or sending everyone home safe at the end of the day.

Safety management expert Dr. Dan Petersen, who is celebrated for the creation of the Six Criteria for Safety Excellence, found that strong safety practices were adopted and demonstrated across organizations where supervisors were held accountable for performance goals, instead of results. This is the difference between supervising and encouraging employees to perform their work in a safe, quality way, as opposed to managing for lagging indicators, such as recordable incident rates.

What then, are we asking our supervisors to do?

According to Dan Petersen a safety management pioneer, the most effective way to ingrain safety is to ensure supervisors talk about safety daily. “What is most important is that the supervisor(s) do something regularly, daily, to emphasize the importance of safety.” [Safety Accountability with Dan Petersen]

Dr. Petersen went on to identify the top four tasks that, when performed in a quality way, a supervisor can undertake to embed a strong safety culture in their organization:

  1. Take responsibility for incident investigations and demonstrate a commitment to determining the cause of the accident over assigning blame.
  2. Regularly conduct a hazard analysis and share the information with employees
  3. Provide regular coaching to employees on safe work behavior during daily meetings and one-on-one’s.
  4. Drive employee engagement in the safety process and encourage them to speak up and recognize good safety practices, not just the hazards. Recognizing employees who always do the ‘right’ thing is just as important as coaching or warning them when they do the wrong thing.

Embedding a culture of safety in your organization takes time and commitment, not just from supervisors, but from managers and leaders throughout the business. Without visible commitment from each and every level of management, it can be hard for the organization to understand the true goals – managing lagging indicators or driving positive employee opinions of safety and embedding a culture of zero.

Supervisor safety excellence means recognizing employees for doing their job safely.

Free Webinar: Supervisor Development - Measuring Performance that Matters

How do you measure the safety performance of your supervisors and motivate them to achieve zero-incident goals at the same time? Jenny Krasny discusses the sources of feedback that drive excellent supervisor performance.

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