The most successful people leading health and safety at work understand it’s not only about minimising the cost, frequency and severity of workplace injuries. Having knowledge of the health and safety basics may be important, but it’s not enough if you want to drive a culture change in the broader business and improve overall performance. Effective supervisors play a vital role in managing H&S on a daily basis and have the skills to ensure the team achieves set targets. They bridge the gap between safety and the overall sustainability of the business as opposed to just focusing on procedures or enforcing the rules.
When it comes to hiring a supervisor, it’s essential to know about the role they play in H&S, as well as the traits that distinguish high-performers.
Safety Leadership and Cultural Development
Health and safety is more than just a box-ticking exercise – it needs to be managed effectively in order to foster a positive safety culture and allow a business to grow. Rather than simply referring to a set of policies and processes, safety culture is about influencing the attitudes and behaviours of all employees toward achieving a safe environment. High-performing supervisors align a project’s requirements with health and safety to ensure better outcomes, whilst creating engagement amongst teams. Given these parameters, supervisor safety responsibilities encompass two main roles.
Firstly, they are the link between senior management and onsite workers. They establish the objectives and priorities of the project and build a safety management system that is not only aligned to targets but can also be effectively implemented. Establishing a structure around safety that clearly outlines the roles and responsibilities of individuals will ensure the site is directed in a way that minimises risk whilst adhering to any overarching business goals. The supervisor serves as the main point of contact to whom onsite employees can report near misses and injuries, who can then relay the information on to the wider business. This provides the opportunity to create new initiatives for communicating H&S internally, as well as implementing procedures for preventing future repeated incidents.
Secondly, supervisors need to cultivate a sense of safety on site. Engagement is an integral component of this design. Developing health and safety committees including management, staff and supervisors will drive the values around safety throughout teams. By meeting regularly, committees can share action plans and current performance versus targets, whilst spurring practical changes to drive improved site safety. Another way to instil a safety culture is to periodically award top employees as H&S representatives, which can encourage them to play a hands-on role in improving onsite behaviours and practices.
When all levels of the business are involved, employees will feel empowered to be safety ambassadors. To be successful, supervisors need to engender a culture of unity and active leadership that supports employee initiatives as well as engagement. That way everyone is working towards a common goal with the same mindset.
Key Skills to Look for in High-Performers
The repercussions of a failed health and safety initiative are far-reaching, from a tarnished reputation to hindered growth and worse still, an injured employee. When looking to hire a supervisor to drive H&S at work, it is worthwhile considering qualities beyond practical experience and technical skills only. The right personality and behavioural attributes are often more important when looking to recruit and develop your next supervisor. The key traits to look out for include:
Interpersonal and communication skills: Supervisor safety responsibilities often encompass having difficult conversations across all levels of the project. Without effective communication skills, supervisors are unable to motivate teams to “buy in” to health and safety, nor can they relay expectations and safe practices effectively.
Cognisant of different personality traits: To foster an effective health and safety vision, supervisors have to recognise the different personalities within teams and what motivates their decision making at work.
Self-awareness: High-performing supervisors lead by example, adhering to health and safety at work whilst encouraging others to follow suit. To do this effectively, however, they should assess their own strengths and weaknesses to identify gaps that need to be filled.
Leadership skills: Capable supervisors are not only able to give direction, but they also inspire and motivate. Influencing employees through development, training and coaching will go a long way in getting individuals to “own” safety and alter their behaviours.
A high-performing health and safety supervisor will ensure that the goals of a business are translated onsite through a platform that attenuates risk and encourages a thriving safety culture. When your supervisor effectively manages the attitudes, mindsets and behaviours that propagate H&S, your business will reap great rewards.
To find your next high-performing supervisor or to discuss any of your Construction, Engineering and Infrastructure recruitment needs, get in touch.