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3 Ways to Use This Free Supervisor Safety Guide

Warehouse manager with workers working during pandemic

Supervisors play a vital role in workplace safety outcomes. Like it or not, there’s no getting around the fact that supervisors have an outsized influence on how workers think about safety, pay attention to hazards, and build or abandon critical safety habits like wearing PPE.

And while “supervisor support for safety may be essential, it’s not a given. Many supervisors forget that employee safety is a core part of their duties. Others lack the right skills and knowledge to effectively support organizational safety efforts.”

That quote is from The Safety-First Supervisor, a free guide dedicated to helping safety professionals figure out how to get a better safety performance from shift supervisors and other frontline leaders.

The supervisor safety guide is a great source of information if you want to learn more about the issues located at the intersection of safety and shop-floor leadership. But it also has several specific applications that can prove to be quite valuable. To that end, here’s a quick overview of three ways to make use of this free guide on supervisors and safety.

Diagnose the specific challenges with your supervisors

The guide’s most obvious application is to provide EHS folks with an overview of the many obstacles that can get in the way of shift supervisors being safety champions. But that does more than simply noting common supervisory safety challenges, by outlining how to diagnose each issue in the workplace. Here’s an excerpt from the entry for Talking About Safety:

“If you’re unsure how often your supervisors talk about safety, then there’s a decent chance that they don’t do it enough. But you can confirm by asking them (though keep in mind that self-reporting isn’t always accurate), asking the workers, or by counting how often they mention safety-related issues over a couple days and then extrapolating from there.”

Armed with this information, you’ll have a much stronger sense of whether the frequency of safety communication in your workplace is a problem that needs solving.

Target specific supervisor-focused solutions

Once you’ve diagnosed the challenges that are limiting your supervisors’ effectiveness in safety, you still need to figure out what to do about them. Fortunately, the supervisor safety guide presents a range of possible solutions, from developing the bigger safety picture to specific communication-improvement strategies.

The solutions are surprisingly detailed. For example, one of the solutions discusses employee engagement, and it provides concrete suggestions for five different ways to improve engagement efforts among supervisors, as well as pointing to an additional resource if you need more information as well.

These strategies are applicable whether you’re a seasoned safety professional or are new to having safety responsibilities.

Make the case for supervisor training

It’s understandable if you want to try to address your supervisory safety issues on your own. And in some cases, the challenges that workplaces have are relatively isolated—such as when supervisors don’t understand the value of near-miss reports or there’s a lack of knowledge about a key issue like human factors. Instances like these may be resolvable on an ad-hoc basis.

But often, safety managers don’t have the time to correct every single concern they have with how frontline supervisors deal with safety. Or the troubles exceed their ability to manage on their own. When this happens, your best bet may be to implement formal training that can resolve multiple challenges at once and ensure that everyone’s on the same page.

The big challenge: getting upper management to buy in. The good news is that this guide lays out the case for improving supervisors’ safety abilities. From laying out the issues to showing that they can be resolved—and outlining the benefits of doing so—the Safety-First Supervisor guide spells out for executives why they should invest in supervisory safety training. So as you prepare your pitch to the CFO or general manager for the budget to train your supervisors, don’t be afraid to lean on the lessons from this guide. (Or even to use the guide itself, if you think it will help!)

Whether you’re striving to tamp down on injuries or you’re looking to establish long-term success In human factors management, it’s crucial that supervisors play their part in keeping people safe.

But before you can make that happen, you need to start by diagnosing your specific problems, make sure you understand what’s going on, and then sort through potential solutions. And Safety-First Supervisor will help you do exactly that.

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