Tips for the Safety Supervisor

Originally published 05/31/2017

In past Toolbox Talks, we have discussed the safety responsibilities of construction workers. This week, we’ll discuss ten tips for supervisors to use when supervising safety.

  1. Demonstrate a genuine concern for worker safety. Be sure your workers understand and accept personal responsibility for safety. Provide them with the proper tools to get the job done. Reinforce safety where required and lead by example.
  1. Know the rules of safety that apply to the work you supervise. Be aware of the precautions required on the job. Attend safety training to gain knowledge of safety hazards.
  1. Anticipate risks that may arise from changes in equipment or methods. Use available safety information and advice to help guard against new hazards. It may be appropriate to conduct a periodic hazard assessment of the tasks your workers perform to determine the safest method and what personal protective equipment is needed for each job.
  1. Encourage workers to help identify hazards on the job and recommend a solution. Also encourage workers to stop work on a job if they have unanswered safety questions. Let them know that providing input on safety is not only allowed, but strongly recommended.
  1. Instruct your employees to work safely, with persistence and patience. When you observe employees who are not observing the safety rules, correct the unsafe behavior immediately. Unsafe work practices that go uncorrected can have long-term effects on your safety program.
  1. Follow up on safety issues and suggestions. Keep your workers involved in your company safety program. All safety suggestions and questions deserve a response. When communication breaks down and supervisors do not respond to workers’ suggestions, workers can easily lose interest.
  1. Set a good example. Demonstrate safety in your own work habits and personal conduct so that you don’t appear hypocritical in the eyes of your workers.
  1. Analyze all accidents and near-misses. When minor injuries go unheeded, crippling accidents may strike later. Minor accidents and near-misses provide an opportunity for safety improvements that could result in avoiding a serious accident or fatality.
  1. Recognize your role in the company’s overall safety program. It is vital to know that the company’s safety director does not own the safety program and that your involvement and input is welcomed and encouraged.
  1. Embrace your supervisory role and carry it out. Remember that managing safety on the job is as important as managing the project itself. Safety on the job is an investment that always pays dividends. Every effort that we make to prevent accidents on the job leads to a more productive work atmosphere and can contribute to improved employee morale.

Download the recording form here.

Weather: Prepare for the Worst

There’s a lot of talk these days about global warming, melting glaciers and the rising levels of the oceans, and almost every scientist has a different opinion about climate change and its effects. One thing we know for certain: at some point during almost every construction project, you’ll have to deal with severe weather. Because you could experience torrential rainfalls, hail storms, high winds or even a tornado, OSHA requires every company to have an emergency action plan on all jobsites where it schedules work for more than a few days.

Here are the elements that you should include in your emergency action plan, as required by OSHA specification 29 CFR 1926.35.

Emergency evacuation plan

Routinely explain your plan to everyone on the construction site, and clearly state the conditions that require evacuation. Employees should know their escape route assignments before an emergency occurs.

Critical operations

Do not simply abandon exposed electrical circuits or running machines. Account for these operations in your plan; give instructions on what to do; and provide the time you need to shut down safely.

Account for every employee

Appoint one or more individuals to make sure that every worker has left the jobsite if you need to evacuate. Appoint someone at the designated meeting place to account for everyone.

Rescue and medical duties

Make sure site supervisors know the location of medical supplies and the emergency numbers. Train supervisors to know what to do in situations requiring rescue services.

Reporting emergency situations

Communication is critical in an emergency. Your emergency action plan should outline procedures for communicating with employees about what’s happening and the actions they need to take.

Company representative(s) responsible for the plan

Clearly state in your plan who is responsible for each aspect of the plan, and train those individuals to carry out their jobs efficiently.

We cannot control the weather or predict every unsafe condition, but having an emergency action plan in place will help us respond to these conditions safely.