Supervisors pivotal to your success

Workplace Safety & Prevention Services
December 28, 2017
By Workplace Safety & Prevention Services
Dec. 28, 2017 - Did you know that business success can often be predicted? The first indicator is employee engagement. To perform, people in your organization need to be engaged, focused, at their post, able to handle complexities, plan, make decisions, build relationships — and for that they need to be safe and healthy, both physically and mentally.

Without that baseline, they can’t focus on growing your business, however much they might like to. Studies show that an engaged workforce can increase profit margins by as much as 4 per cent and yield up to 22 per cent more in shareholder returns.

The second indicator is the ability of your supervisors to defend against preventable risk. Supervisors have an up-close and personal view of what’s happening every day. They know workers best, pull the levers of motivation, and are responsible for monitoring compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and regulations.

Workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities are often symptoms of defects in a business’s health and safety culture, as well as its policies and procedures. These defects also result in near misses, inefficiencies, equipment damage, unproductive attitudes and more.

Competent, plugged-in supervisors, when supported by their employers, have the frontline perspective to identify such defects and weaknesses, and implement processes to defend against them. But what’s the best way to invest in this important role?

“Of all the workplace parties, supervisors have the toughest gig when it comes to health and safety,” says Scott Morrow, a Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS) training specialist. “They have the most responsibilities under various pieces of legislation.” He says the most important thing an employer can do is educate and train supervisors in those responsibilities.

He identifies five areas to focus your efforts on.

1. The Occupational Health and Safety Act. Without a working knowledge of the act, a supervisor cannot be deemed “competent.” Yet, Morrow says many supervisors he trains have scant knowledge of the act and their duties under it. “If they don’t know the law, they can’t enforce it.” It’s critical that employers also understand the act and what competency means.

2. Hazard identification, risk assessment and controls. Training on existing and potential hazards is also required for a supervisor to be deemed competent, says Morrow. “Supervisors have to educate and train workers. They can’t do that without getting the proper training themselves.”

3. Due diligence. “Supervisors must take every precaution reasonable to protect workers,” explains Scott. In the event of an incident, “they can be charged for failing to make sure something happens.” To prove due diligence, “they need to have documentation, policies, procedures, job description, education and training records, compliance notes, discipline records, and more.”

4. Accommodation and return to work. Many supervisors are asked by their employers to accommodate returning workers or workers with disabilities while having little or no knowledge of what the law requires, he says.

5. Leadership and coaching. Effective supervisors need to be good at both.

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