The best workers comp claim is the claim that never happened. An effective approach to accident prevention is having supervisors actively involved in the safety program. The importance of safety training for field or floor supervisors cannot be overstated. Having supervisors actively involved in safety programs gets them to “buy into” the program, making it more effective, and making safety an important daily job duty for supervisors makes safety a routine practice.
Safety Responsibilities of Supervisors
Supervisors’ safety responsibilities must be incorporated into their job descriptions as important performance measurements.
Safety objectives that should be a regular part of every supervisor’s job include:
- Inspecting work areas to identify any safety issues
- Initiating work orders for safety related repairs
- Insuring all needed repairs are completed timely
- Knowing and complying with all OSHA and state requirements
- Enforcing employee compliance with all safety regulations
- Training all new employees on the safety plan
- Having monthly safety meetings with group employees
- Safe completion of all work
- Recording all safety incidents
- Reporting all safety incidents to management
- Investigating all accidents
- Preventing the reoccurrence of similar accidents
- Reviewing with management how to improve safety
Knowing and Implementing the Safety Plan
Management must ensure that supervisors know and implement the current safety plan. Supervisors must be familiar with any updates to the safety plan and immediately communicate these changes to their group employees. Supervisors should review the changes and the overall safety plan with their group employees at the monthly safety meetings.
Review of Safety Work Orders
Management should regularly review a supervisor’s safety work orders for repairs or improvements and this information should also be included in a supervisor’s performance review. Management must verify that the supervisor is identifying and correcting legitimate safety hazards. The accuracy and effectiveness of the safety work orders will impact the overall outcome of the safety program.
An important safety duty of a supervisor is to create a detailed accident report after each injury. The accident report should always be reviewed by management immediately following an incident and the quality of all accident investigations completed by the supervisor should be a part of every performance review.
The supervisor’s manager should check each supervisor’s accident report to determine if the supervisor:
- Interviewed the injured employee and the co-workers/witnesses
- Included an investigation of the object/ machinery/ equipment involved
- Determined if the accident was the employee’s fault or caused by an object/equipment/ machinery defect
- Recommended how to prevent a similar accident from occurring in the future
Safety Reporting Is More Than Completing OSHA Forms.
Safety reporting should entail a review of injury accidents by categories determined by management. Sample categories include employee error, equipment/machinery malfunction and unforeseen circumstances. The purpose is to identify areas where further safety improvements can be made.
Checking the OSHA Website
One good way to keep supervisors up to date on safety prevention is to have them or their managers regularly check the OSHA website at http://www.osha.gov/. OSHA provides easily downloadable posters, flyers, educational materials and apps to help supervisors prevent accidents and injuries.
The Supervisor’s Performance Review
Performance reviews are one way to insure that supervisors meet their safety goals. Management should not measure safety solely by the number of injury claims reported. By emphasizing the prevention of injuries, management reduces a supervisor’s temptation to underreport the minor injuries that do occur.
In performance reviews, management should assess a supervisor’s:
- Completion of regular safety inspections
- Timeliness of repair orders
- Compliance with OSHA and other regulations
- Safety training provided to employees
- Recommendations on how to improve safety
Integrating safety into supervisors’ job performance will improve compliance with all safety requirements and reduce the number of workers’ compensation claims.
Author Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%. He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is the founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center, which offers the Certified Master of Workers’ Compensation national designation.
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