Why the Observation?
The employee observed should be aware of the observation from time to time. Inform all employees, as part of their orientation, that JSOs are a phase of the safety and health program. All employees must fully understand the reason for incidental and planned observations. With this in mind, there is another consideration in preparing for the JSO. Should you inform the employee in advance about the observation? Under certain conditions, the employee should have advanced notice.
If trying to find out what an employee knows and does not know about job safety procedures, tell the employee in advance. If any unsafe practices are revealed under this condition, the supervisor can conclude that the employee does not know safety procedures. If the supervisor tells the employee in advance, he/she will learn what is known or not known about job safety procedures.
If the employee is new, or one who has relatively little experience, tell him/her in advance. This is also true for an employee who may have experience but has never been checked using a JSO.
Do not tell the employee in advance about the observation if the objective is to learn how the employee normally does the job. When the supervisor knows that an employee understands how to do a job safely, the supervisor must then find out how the employee works when no one is observing. To determine this, the employee should not be told in advance about the JSO. Most employees work safely under the eyes of the supervisor, especially when they are told of the observation. If the employee does not show unsafe practices, the supervisor can assume that the employee usually works safely. If the same person is later observed doing some part of the job unsafely, the supervisor must believe that work is performed unsafely at other times. The supervisor may know that the employee can perform the job safely from past observation. From observing employees without their knowledge, the supervisor may learn that they are not putting into practice their job knowledge.
The supervisor should never try to observe an employee from a hidden position. The supervisor may learn by the observation, but respect and human relations may be lost. After informing the employee of the observation, the supervisor must stand clear of the employee's work area. The employee must be given plenty of room to work. The supervisor must not create a hazard by standing too close or distracting the employee.
The supervisor should avoid work interruptions unless absolutely necessary. It is better to save all minor corrections until the observation is complete. However, if the employee
does something in an unsafe manner, stop him/her immediately. The supervisor should explain what has been done wrong and explain why it is unsafe. Call the employee's attention to the JSA/JHA if training was originally conducted within the framework of a JSA/ JHA program. Check to see if the employee fully understands the explanation. This can often be done by having the employee tell and show the safe way to do the job.