The best workers compensation claim is the claim that never happened. It is important for management to create a have a culture to prevent claims, to create a safety program and to improve a safety program. This top down approach is effective and leads to the prevention of accidents. What the top down approach often misses is the importance of having the supervisors actively involved in the safety program. The importance of safety training for the field supervisors or the floor supervisors cannot be overstated.
Safety Responsibility Needs To Be Incorporated Into Supervisor Job Descriptions
The safety responsibilities of the lower level management – the supervisors – need to be incorporated into their job descriptions just as much as production goals, financial goals or other performance measurements. The safety objectives that should be a part of the job description of every supervisor should include:
- Regular inspections of their work area to identify any safety issues
- Responsibility for initiating work orders for safety related repairs
- Responsibility for insuring all needed repairs are completed timely
- Responsibility for identifying areas where improvements of the physical area would reduce risk
- Knowing and complying with all OSHA requirements
- Knowing and complying with all state safety laws
- Enforcing compliance with all safety regulations
- Responsibility for training all new employees on the safe completion of their work
- Responsibility for having monthly safety meetings with the employees in her/her group
- Responsibility for the safe completion of all work
- Responsibility for recording all safety incidents
- Responsibility for reporting all safety incidents to management
- Responsibility for investigating all accidents
- Responsibility for preventing the reoccurrence of similar accidents
- Responsibility for reviewing with management how to improve safety
Supervisor Performance Review Should Include Safety Goals
The supervisor’s performance review should include how well they met their safety goals. Management should avoid the temptation to measure safety solely by the number of injury claims reported. The completion of regular safety inspections, the timeliness of repair orders, the compliance with OSHA and other regulations, the safety training provided to the employees and the recommendations on how to improve safety should be given equal weight with the number of injury claims reported. By placing the emphasis on the prevention of injuries as opposed to the number of injuries, you reduce the temptation of the supervisor to underreport the minor injuries that do occur.
An importance safety function of the supervisor is to create a detailed accident report after each injury. A review of the quality of the accident investigations completed by the supervisor should be a part of the supervisor’s 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. The object/ machinery/ equipment involved in the injury should be a part of the accident investigation with a determination if the accident was the employee’s fault or caused by a defect in the object/equipment/ machinery being used. A recommendation by the supervisor on how to prevent a similar accident from occurring in the future should be a part of the supervisor’s report.
Safety Reporting Is More Than Completing OSHA Forms
Safety reporting is more than completing OSHA forms. It should entail a review of injury accidents by categories determined by management. Sample categories could include employee error, equipment/machinery malfunction and unforeseen. The purpose should be to identify areas where further safety improvements can be made.
The review of the safety work orders for repairs or improvements should also be included in the supervisor’s performance review. The supervisor’s manager should verify the supervisor is identifying and seeking to correct legitimate safety hazards. The accuracy and the effectiveness of the safety work orders will impact the overall outcome of the safety program.
By integrating safety into the job performance of the supervisors, the compliance level with all safety requirements will improve and the number of workers’ compensation claims will be reduced.
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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