How Safety Professionals Can Transform Supervisors into Safety Leaders

How Safety Professionals Can Transform Supervisors into Safety Leaders

Many Supervisors and Managers receive little to no training on how to be Safety Leaders. Their job is about making sure the work gets done correctly. 

We can change that by creating a program to teach them what they need to know about safety and leadership so they become your company's Safety Leaders. 

One of my most rewarding activities of being a Safety Professional was teaching Supervisors to be Safety Leaders. It was also the most challenging at times. I remember when it hit me that this was part of my job.

I was sitting with all the Supervisors on a project, we had ramped up very quickly and had some serious incidents because we were not ready. We were going through experience and competencies to see what we had missed as everyone was pretty scared about losing the contract. I realized that most of the team assembled were young hard-working people, but none of them had been taught about their role in safety and the responsibilities they carry. 

In the end, we kept the contract by working hard together to bring our safety game up to the level it needed to be. To this day I am proud of the change that they all made to become Safety Leaders!

The first place to start is by auditing your existing team to better understand what they know. This is very simple using the framework below.

Start asking questions to learn what each of them knows about the following questions:

  1. What are their job responsibilities?
  2. What do they do every day to make sure their workers are safe?
  3. Do they find it hard to juggle production and safety?
  4. How does safety affect production?
  5. What techniques do they use to manage their team?

You want to learn these three things:

  1. Do they understand their role in safety?
  2. Do they understand their legal responsibility?
  3. Do they have any soft skill training or do they understand leadership?

Use this information to build your safety leadership plan. Layout what they need to know about safety and leadership. Once this is done, prepare your case for upper management on why you want to create a safety leadership program and how it will have a positive effect on the company. This is the most important step because, without their support, you will not get the resources to create this program. 

Once you have this, start putting the basics together to start training your team. The easiest place to start is with training around legislation and legal responsibilities. Let's be honest, this can be dry material so try to find content and activities to liven up the process. Teaching this in a group can give you the opportunity to get everyone involved and talking together. 

The next training should be developed around their role in safety. This should include inspections, hazard assessments, and of course how to lead a meaningful safety program. Try teaching them The Perfect Safety Meeting, how to perform Personal Safety Involvements, and What I Wish I Knew. These will be great assets for them to be able to use. 

The final step is to start teaching leadership. This can be done with speakers or guests that come in to teach leadership techniques. These training sessions can include all supervision and management at the company because everyone can benefit from being better leaders.


Teach your Supervisors to be Safety Leaders


Most people think they are too busy to build, champion, and deliver a program like this. But if you do the leg work and present it well to your management team, you will find that they are more than willing to add resources to a program that will benefit the whole company.


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