Safety Leadership: Are Your Supervisors Communicating Safety Every Day?

Supervisors have the most direct and frequent contact with employees, which makes them ideal safety leaders in the workplace.

Here are a few suggestions for simple, easy verbal contacts between supervisors and employees that can help promote workplace safety. This material was originally presented in a BLR® webinar, Safety for Supervisors: How To Effectively Integrate Best Practices Into Your Front Line’s Daily Routine, conducted by Dan Snyder of Performance Based Safety, LLC.

‘Passing By’ Verbal Contacts

Supervisors can easily integrate safety into their daily dialogue with employees by taking a couple of minutes to talk about safety as they pass by. For example:

  • “Are you having a safe shift?”
  • “Is that machine running safely?”
  • “Let me know if you run into any problems as you proceed.”
  • “Hey, don’t forget your safety glasses.”

‘State the Obvious’ Verbal Contacts

Supervisors can also exhibit safety leadership by observing a task and pointing out the things the worker did safely. For example:

  • “I saw you bending with your knees as you lifted that. That’s good! It will keep your back healthy.”
  • “I am glad you are wearing cut-resistant gloves. Someone was cut doing that same job last year.”
  • “Thanks for cleaning up the oil spill. It will keep others from slipping and falling.”

‘Simple Question’ Verbal Contacts

Supervisors can also promote safety through verbal contacts that remind employees of the correct behavior by asking a question with a known answer. For example:

  • “Shouldn’t you wear gloves when you do that?”
  • “How might you get hurt doing that?”
  • “Have you thought where your elbow will go when that box is pulled free?”

‘Communication’ Verbal Contacts

Supervisors can also use safety news or current events to communicate with employees about safety. For example:

  • “Did you hear about that injury at XYZ company? Do we have similar risks here?”
  • “It was good that Dave found that oil leak during his rounds yesterday.”
  • “What did you get from that safety meeting we had yesterday?”
  • “Did you read about the procedure change in the weekly safety notes? How will that change how you do this task?”

‘Follow-Up’ Verbal Contacts

Follow-ups to safety questions and issues also provide an excellent opportunity for supervisors to engage employees in workplace safety. For example:

  • “We are going to change that procedure like you suggested. It may take a minute longer, but doing it more safely is worth the time. Thanks!”
  • “You were right about wearing a dust mask while doing this job. It is now part of the procedure. Good suggestion. Thanks!”
  • “Have you done an observation this month?”
  • “Did you complete your action item from last week’s safety meeting?”

‘Pre-Task’ Verbal Contacts

Supervisors can also exhibit safety leadership in pre-task safety discussions. For example, they can talk about:

  • Potential hazards of tasks
  • “What if” scenarios
  • Procedures to avoid hazards and eliminate risks
  • Incidents that have occurred before and the corrective action to prevent a repeat
  • Workers’ safety concerns

Source: EHS Daily Advisor