Special Topics in Safety Management

Safety Compliance: Why Supervisors Also Need to Know

You may be the safety professional at your organization. But by law, every supervisor has the same responsibility. That means they, too, have a need to know what you already do. And now there’s a special audio conference to help teach them.

Yesterday’s Advisor broached the subject of what line supervisors and managers should do if an OSHA inspector unexpectedly visits at a time when you were not available to handle it. Some who saw this article suggested that it raised an even wider question: Just what do line people need to know about safety compliance?

It’s a valid question. Although you, the safety professional, have the primary role of making sure your organization meets both legal and moral requirements in keeping workers safe, you can’t be everywhere at once, watching everything at once. And when things happen quickly, as they can in a safety emergency, you’ll need to depend on the line people to do what’s legal, right, and protective of the interests of all involved.

Let BLR teach supervisors and other frontline personnel how to deal with OSHA and their role in safety compliance at BLR’s special May 21 audio conference, titled Frontline Supervisors, Forepersons, and Managers: Why They Are Your First Line of Defense Against Injuries and Lawsuits; How to Optimize Their Role. Can’t attend? Preorder the CD. Satisfaction assured! Read more.

This fact assumes greater importance when it’s realized that every supervisor or manager is legally an agent of the organization and, thus, as responsible … and liable … for safety compliance as you or executive management. “I wasn’t there that day” doesn’t cut it before government regulators or in court as an excuse for an untrained colleague doing wrong.

To educate your supervisors in their safety and compliance responsibilities, BLR has asked noted attorney Adele Abrams to conduct an audio conference especially for supervisors, concentrating on their safety role. Abrams is chair of the National Safety Council’s Business & Industry division committee on regulatory and legal affairs. She’s also a Certified Mine Safety Professional, a member of ASSE, and a DOL-approved trainer.

The 90-minute conference, scheduled for May 21, will tackle these key areas with which line supervisors and managers need to be familiar:

  • Responsibilities during inspections by either OSHA or the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), adding more information to yesterday’s exposition.

  • Documentation. Attorneys have told us that more cases have been lost due to poor or nonexistent documentation than almost any other cause. With line people usually oriented more toward productivity than recordkeeping, it’s vital that they know not only what and when to document but also how to document concisely and objectively. Shortcomings in any of these areas can be construed by officials and juries as a challenge to credibility.

  • Responsibility for direct reports. Just how much responsibility for an accident is on the employee and how much on the supervisor … and where is the line between?

  • Investigations. Those involved in accidents (and that includes victims and witnesses, as well as anyone accused) have legal rights that must be respected. Managers and supervisors must tread carefully when it comes to finding out what happened, deciding on whom to place blame, and acting correctively, especially when discipline is involved. Any wrong step can result in a violation of privacy rights, or a wrongful termination or discrimination suit.

  • Contractor liability. What if the workers who cause an accident are not your employees but independent contractors you hired? Where does your responsibility for their behavior start and end? And what protections should you obtain before you even let them on your site?

    Supervisors, forepersons, and managers need to know OSHA compliance too. Help them learn at BLR’s special May 21 audio conference especially for them. Can’t attend? Preorder the CD. Satisfaction assured! Read more.

    Because supervisor responsibilities for safety abound (even if they don’t know it), BLR editors recommend you gather around a conference phone all the supervisors and managers that can fit in the room at 1:30 PM ET (adjust for your time zone) on Wednesday, May 21, to hear what they need to know, and to get their (and your) e-mailed or phoned-in questions answered in real time.

    Next time something involving safety happens, and a supervisor or manager who knows what and what not to do is the first one there,, you’ll be glad you did.

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