Leading by example creates a safety conscious workplace
 Jan. 24, 2013

Although many factors affect the safety practices of an organization, no one is more influential than the operation's supervisors. They lead by example and are safety role models. If supervisors have positive safety attitudes, so will their employees. If not, their employees won’t either.

It's not what you say, it's how you act.

The following is a list of 11 practices that supervisors should employ if they want to develop a safety culture in the employees under their supervision.

1. Cultivate Positive Health and Safety Attitudes
  • The supervisor is responsible for developing the proper attitude toward health and safety in all workers under his/her supervision. The following two activities will help promote the development of a positive attitude:
    1.   Lead By Example - the supervisor must set the proper example by his/her personal behavior. When a work area or situation requires personal protective apparel, the supervisor must also use the necessary apparel. In addition, the supervisor must never act unsafely or violate a safety rule or an established safe work practice.
      Be Responsible - the supervisor can best convince other employees of the importance of safety issues by carrying out his/her safety responsibilities conscientiously and with conviction.
2. Knowledge of Safe Work Procedures
  • The supervisor is responsible for knowing the safe work procedures that must be used to perform each job task. It is also his/her responsibility to know what personal protective equipment is needed for each task and how this equipment must be properly used and maintained.
3. Orientation and Training of Employees
  • It is the supervisor's responsibility to train and instruct employees so they can perform their work safely. This includes the proper use of machinery, hand tools, and the use of chemicals and other hazardous materials. Supervisor should also stress the importance of proper body mechanics and lifting techniques to prevent back and other related injuries. Special attention and instruction should be given to new employees or employees who have been recently assigned to a new job or department.
  • All training provided by the supervisor should be documented.
4. Detection Of Employee Personal Difficulties
  • The supervisor should make every reasonable effort to observe each worker under his/her supervision some time during each workday.It is the supervisor's responsibility (within reasonable limits) to detect personal difficulties such as illness or disability among his/her workers. When such conditions are detected, proper action should be taken.
  • Making sure employees are "work ready" when they come to work is critical. Look for signs of fatigue or existing injury. Putting an employee with even a minor injury in the work environment, may lead to further injury to themselves or their co-workers.
5. Enforcement of Safe Practices and Regulations
  • It is the supervisor's responsibility to enforce safe work practices and procedures. Failure to do so invites an increase in unsafe acts and conditions.
6. Conducting Planned Observations
  • The supervisor should conduct planned observations of his/her employees for the purpose of insuring compliance with safe work procedures. Whenever unsafe acts are observed, the supervisor must inform the worker immediately and explain why the act was unsafe. Depending upon the circumstance, disciplinary action may be warranted.
7. Prevention of Unsafe Conditions
  • Many unsafe conditions are the result of what employees do or fail to do properly. It is the supervisor's responsibility to train and periodically remind employees of what conditions to look for, and how to correct or report these conditions.
8. Conducting Planned Safety Inspections
  • The supervisor should conduct periodic inspections of tools, machinery and assigned work areas. Planned inspections are an effective and systematic method of discovering conditions that could be a contributing cause of a work injury.
9. Conducting Safety Meetings
  • The supervisor should periodically conduct safety meetings. This will increase safety awareness and keep employees informed about their organizations safety programs. Safety meetings should be kept short and cover relevant topics such as recent job accidents, near misses or specific job hazards.
10. Correcting Unsafe Conditions
  • The supervisor should take immediate steps to correct unsafe conditions within his/her authority and ability. When an unsafe condition cannot be immediately corrected, the supervisor should take temporary precautionary measures such as an alternate process. A follow-up system should also be used to ensure that corrective measures are completed in a timely fashion.
11. Investigating Unsafe Conditions
  • The supervisor is responsible for conducting accident investigations as soon after the accident as possible. All the facts and opinions regarding the direct, contributing and root causes of the accident should be compiled and documented.

Lead by example and protect the health of your employees. For more information on how to be an effective safety leader contact the CMTA at wcgroup@cmta.net.

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