The Champion

What Do Safety Supervisors Do?

A safety supervisor inspects workplaces and directs employees to ensure that people and property are kept Supervisorsafe at all times. He or she might work for food service organizations, manufacturing plants, hospitals, construction companies, or one of many other industries where health and safety are priorities. Many safety supervisors regularly visit facilities to enforce legal regulations and help establish more effective procedures. In order to work as a safety supervisor, an individual is usually required to possess strong problem-solving, writing, and verbal communication skills.

Attentive safety supervisors are essential members of construction crews and manufacturing plant workforces. Supervisors in industry and construction oversee the work performed by laborers to make sure they are following legal and company safety guidelines. A safety supervisor at a construction site also regularly inspects equipment, tools, and building materials to ensure quality and safety. Supervisors in manufacturing plants make sure that machinery is properly maintained and that workers wear appropriate safety gear, such as helmets and goggles, at all times.

Ensuring the health of employees and customers in food service facilities is the primary responsibility of a safety supervisor. Restaurants, cafeterias, and food processing plants frequently staff safety supervisors to oversee the preparation of food. Professionals work in kitchens, making sure that ingredients are properly stored to prevent contamination. They check freezers and refrigerators, as well as cooking pots and ovens to help prevent spoilage and potentially devastating outbreaks of bacteria.

Some safety supervisors work for government regulation agencies. Also called health and safety inspectors, government safety supervisors visit workplaces to evaluate working conditions. They tour facilities to inspect equipment and processes. A safety supervisor is authorized to issue warnings or fines when he or she discovers violations of safety codes, such as improper food storage or blocked fire exits. When violations are discovered, the supervisor explains problems to employees and managers and informs them how they can bring their establishment back up to code.

The requirements to become a safety supervisor vary between different locations, industries, and specific companies.

As a Worker is Safety Important to you?
Is job safety important to you? Some people will say yes right away. Others may feel differently, at least when this question is first posed. But survival and avoidance of pain is a basic instinct for all. You may say that safety isn’t important to you, but just wait until you get hurt. At that time, I’ll bet you will think differently.

Safety does not just happen. Remember the old adage, if something can go wrong, it will. We must work to make things happen right; that is, in a safe manner. But one person cannot do this alone. It takes the cooperation of everyone. You cannot overlook a safety problem. If you do, the results could be disastrous.

Your company has a moral, legal, and financial interest in your well being. Supervisors should be receptive to your safety concerns. Have you ever brought a problem to your supervisor only to have it dismissed? It happens. This does not mean he or she isn’t interested and you should drop the subject. You can’t afford to. You may be the one getting hurt. Let us look at ways you can use to make your supervisor share your safety concerns.

  • Don’t wait until the problem becomes critical. As soon as you see the adjustment slipping, guard loosening, or scheduling problems, speak up. This will give your supervisor the opportunity to deal with the problem in a planned manner. Planning is part of a supervisor’s job. Help him do it right.
  • Don’t be overly emotional or accusatory. Maybe you were just involved in a “near miss.” Emotion is understandable. But it is a rare supervisor who will deliberately put someone in harms way. More likely than not, the supervisor was not aware of the problem.
  • Be prepared to offer your assessment as to whether the problem is critical or not. Don’t overstate the seriousness, but don’t understate it either. If you don’t know whether the problem is critical or not, say so.
  • Offer suggestions as to what needs to be done to correct the problem. This may clarify, in your supervisor’s mind, what needs to be done and helps facilitate understanding. Again, if you don’t know, say so.
  • Finally, try to get commitment as to when the problem will be corrected. The idea is not to put anyone on the spot. But, when there is a firm commitment, people tend to pay more attention. If you don’t see any action by the completion date, follow-up or remind the supervisor of your concern.

Again, supervisor are human. They can get buried in things that may need more immediate attention and/or they could just forget. Supervisors, remember the employee who brings safety problems to your attention is just trying to do his job and help you with yours. Their concerns should never be dismissed without a review.

Upcoming MSF Safety Workshops
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June 3 –   Bozeman
June 4 –   Butte
June 5 –   Great Falls
June 9 –   Helena
June 11 – Miles City
June 12 – Billings
June 18 – Kalispell
June 19-  Missoula

Upcoming SafetyFestMT 
Butte: June 2-4, 2015
Billings: November 16-20, 2015