Line Supervisors

The individual with the most impact on workplace safety and health has to be the line supervisor. Everything that is communicated to the workers comes from the supervisor. The first-line supervisor sets the tone for his/her workplace. The supervisor is the role model for the company, since he/she conveys, implements, supports, and enforces all the company's policies and procedures from production to safety.

Just think of all that the first-line supervisor does:

  • 1. Hires new employees
  • 2. Trains new employees
  • 3. Holds safety meetings
  • 4. Coaches employees on the job
  • 5. Controls quality and quantity
  • 6. Stops a job in progress
  • 7. Takes unsafe tools out of production
  • 8. Investigates accidents
  • 9. Inspects the work area
  • 10. Corrects unsafe conditions and unsafe acts
  • 11. Recommends promotions or demotions
  • 12. Transfers employees in and out of the work area
  • 13. Grants pay raises
  • 14. Issues warnings and administers discipline
  • 15. Reports on probationary employees
  • 16. Suspends and/or discharges
  • 17. Prepares work schedules
  • 18. Delegates work to others
  • 19. Prepares vacation schedules
  • 20. Grants leaves of absence
  • 21. Lays off others for lack of work
  • 22. Processes grievances
  • 23. Authorizes maintenance and repairs
  • 24. Makes suggestions for improvement
  • 25. Discusses problems with management
  • 26. Reduces waste
  • 27. Prepares budget
  • 28. Approves expenditures
  • 29. Fosters employees' morale
  • 30. Motivates workers
  • 31. Reduces turnover

Is it any wonder the success or failure of the company's safety and health program is dependent upon the first-line supervisor? Certainly, everyone would acknowledge that the first-line supervisor is responsible for safety and health within his/her work area. But seldom is the line supervisor evaluated on his/her safety performance in the same manner as his/her production performance. Until the supervisor is held accountable for safety and health in the same manner as for production with equal consequences for poor safety and health performance as for poor production performance, then safety and health will never be a priority with him/her. The value that the supervisor places upon safety and health will always be far less than the value placed upon production. This is why a separate evaluation form for the supervisors' safety and health performance, which can be used to compare safety and health performance of supervisors, will go a long way toward placing equal value on occupational safety and health (OSH).

Further Readings

Reese, C.D. Office Building Safety and Health. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2004.

Reese, C.D. Accident/Incident Prevention Techniques (Second Edition). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press/Taylor & Francis Group, 2012.

Reese, C.D. Occupational Health and Safety: A Practical Approach (Third Edition). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press/Taylor & Francis Group, 2016.

Reese, C.D. and J.V. Eidson. Handbook of OSHA Construction Safety & Health (Second Edition). Boca Raton, FL: CRC/Taylor & Francis, 2006.

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