It’s a beautiful day at the manufacturing facility where you’ve been a supervisor for the past year. Today, you asked Jack, one of your employees, to repair a broken edge bander machine. People use this type of machine to apply tape to wood panel edges using glue.
After about an hour, another employee calls you and informs you that Jack has been hurt. You rush over to the scene of the incident and find him on the ground with blood gushing from his hand.
Upon closer inspection, you realize he has cut off two of his fingers. You act on instinct and ask an employee to call an ambulance. You then remove your jacket and use it to put pressure on the injured area, while comforting Jack.
After this incident was reported to the local regulatory body, they found that the machine was not switched off properly before Jack began working on it. They also discovered that sufficient training and instruction were not provided to employees to complete such a task.
This event is based on a true story that actually occurred earlier this year in Wales. In the end, the company was fined £100,00 ($122,914) for violating Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was forced to pay £7,688 ($9,449).
Why was sufficient training and instruction never carried out? Did the employer not conduct risk assessments on this machine? Did supervisors fail to identify hazards associated with such equipment? Did the supervisor know if the employee was even qualified to carry out this task?
Read on to discover why health and safety training awareness is a must for any supervisor, regardless of their industry. In short, safety education is necessary for supervisors because it:
- Creates a safer workplace
- Helps the company meet local legislation requirements
- Sets the examples for employees
Create a safer workplace
Why is health and safety training important? Health and safety awareness is important for all employees, including supervisors, to make the workplace safer. Supervisors have a responsibility to protect their teams from harm. As one of their core duties, it’s vital they complete health and safety training awareness, online health and safety courses, and any other obligations mandated by regulatory bodies in their region.
In these courses, supervisors learn a variety of health and safety elements such as their duties and responsibilities, how to handle health and safety concerns, how to recognize and control hazards, root cause analysis, and much more. Learning these elements is necessary to create a safe work environment, as it will help to reduce incidents and illnesses and pave the way for a more proactive approach to safety.
Such courses also teach supervisors about workers’ rights in the region. A key aspect of creating a safe workplace is not violating these rights and treating all employees according to legislation. Every employee, for instance, must be provided with the necessary knowledge, instruction, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to carry out their job tasks safely.
Meet local legislation requirements
Not only is health and safety training awareness key to reducing incidents and illnesses, it’s also mandated by local legislation. To stay compliant, all supervisors must undergo this training.
If you are located in the United States, you must be compliant with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) which states that “each agency shall provide occupational safety and health training for supervisory employees...”. If you are located in the United Kingdom, you must comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
By fulfilling this training, you are helping your company comply with all local legislation requirements. This will help avoid hefty fines and penalties for your organization.
Set the example for your employees
A competent supervisor who prioritizes health and safety sets a good example for all employees and team members. If leaders put safety first, it will have a positive impact on the entire organization. This will result in a stronger safety culture, with all employees understanding that safety is everyone’s responsibility.
Let’s take a closer look at a study conducted by Benjamin Artz, Amanda Goodall, and Andrew J. Oswald, from the University of Wisconsin, City University London, and University of Warwick respectively, which found that a supervisor’s competence is the “strongest predictor of a worker’s well-being.”
The above table (Artz et al., 2014, p. 21), taken from the aforementioned study, shows data from two surveys: the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and The Working in Britain Survey. It clearly shows that supervisor competence is one of the most important factors contributing to an employee’s job satisfaction. When workers have competent and skilled bosses, they feel happier, and this leads to a better and more efficient work environment.
So what's next?
Having trained supervisors at your organization is key to a healthy and safe workplace. As seen above, it will not only help to keep your organization compliant, but it will translate into a stronger safety culture. This will result in a stronger safety record and a better reputation for your company.
We talked about the positive side of training supervisors on health and safety, but we should also consider the negative side. Discover the legal consequences of mismanaging training, understand its potential financial implications for your organization, and explore how to ensure ongoing employee training in our guide. Read Your Guide to Training Management (and the cost of getting it wrong) now.