Are Your Supervisors Seeing Hazards? Studies Suggest They’re Not

Writing note on paper - Audit and inspection in oil field operation.

Supervisors are key employees for organizations. They have the greatest insight on the ground-level, day-to-day operations. They are influential team members and have a greater responsibility for safe working practices on-site. They harness their insights and responsibilities to brief the other employees on safety hazards and ensure risks are mitigated.

But supervisors are not infallible. They are employees with several competing tasks and stressors influencing how they attend to their daily duties. These other factors are competing for their focus and that causes supervisors to overlook or incorrectly assess potential risks on the job site.

Recent studies back up this claim and paint an unnerving picture of the disconnect between the years of experience, training level of supervisors and their ability to correctly identify and assess risks. Yet employers still need to rely on supervisors as their eyes and ears for effective communication and safety.  So, what can be done to ensure that supervisors are correctly assessing and addressing the hazards around a job site?

The Hands Can’t Hit What the Eyes Can’t See

Worksite safety requires an accurate and diligent risk assessment to reduce injuries and incidents.

This important responsibility should be shared by every employee within a company’s safety culture. Supervisors tend to bear a greater portion of the responsibility due to their level of authority. They are ultimately the ones who are in the most immediate position to redirect entire teams or a worksite away from tasks with the greatest potential for risks and harm. So, it is particularly important that supervisors can assess risk with precision.

What the research uncovered was multi-faceted. Supervisors across the board had difficulty fully identifying all the hazards. In addition, they were not able to correctly assess the level of risk present versus established methods.

The research also determined that supervisors with more experience and formal safety training were better able to identify and assess risks compared to their peers with less experience and training. The data also found that presenting supervisors with a virtual three-dimensional training environment rather than physical photos and documents led to more accurate risk identification and assessment for all participants.

How Information is Taught Matters

What the research shows is that effective safety training is necessary to ensure supervisors have the skills to be most effective on the job. Basic safety education is required to establish the core fundamentals of safety risk identification and assessment. But specialized education around job-specific hazards boosts a supervisor’s abilities to foster a robust safety culture and more precisely identify potential risks. This leads to more accurate assessments at critical moments to better ensure the safety of employees on the job and keep injury numbers low.

Amerisafe has built a curriculum around comprehensive safety training. This allows supervisors and employees to be primed for success from day one with a substantial safety education presented by experts in the field. Courses also drill down to job-specific hazards in a variety of industries and settings so the whole team is specialized and prepared to identify, assess, and mitigate potential risks before they’re onsite.  Amerisafe Group works with employers to provide courses in a setting and schedule that works best for each individual organization. Because the way the information is presented is as important to retention as the information itself.

Team with Amerisafe Group to educate supervisors on hazard perception to boost confidence that risks onsite are being caught before an incident occurs.


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