The Importance of Supervision for Health and Safety
A large number of incidents and accidents in the workplace come about through a lack of knowledge regarding the potential dangers which exist whilst performing a certain task or working in a particular location. Often this will be due to a lack of suitable health and safety training being provided to them which comprehensively explains these potential risks, and teaches the correct methods of working safely so as to avoid getting into a situation which could be potentially damaging to their health and safety or that of others nearby.
A group of workers which is particularly at risk are young people who have had very little experience of working in a particular industry. Older individuals who have been working in the industry for many years are likely to have picked up useful advice and information for staying safe and avoiding coming to/avoiding causing harm, although this is by no means an alternative for providing health and safety training as this information they have picked up themselves from their experience may be incorrect or incomplete.
When young workers or those who have spent their career in a completely different industry and have no experience of working in this particular type of business are involved, not only is health and safety training an absolute must but so is an appropriate level of supervision.
What is an appropriate level of supervision?
The amount of supervision which will be required to ensure a suitable level of safety will depend greatly upon a number of different factors including:
- The particular dangers present in the workplace
- The potential scope and scale which an incident could cause, in terms of both the danger to health and the likely radius and area size affected
- The experience level of the individual as well as how much safety training they have had in the past
- The personal attitude and characteristics of the person. For instance, are they sensible and willing to do things by the book, or do they have a reputation for showing off and being reckless?
A manager will need to determine the level of supervision required, if any, based on these factors. They also need to recognise that competency only comes through a combination of aspects such as suitable training, experience in that particular job role and industry, and the person's attitude towards safety and the task itself. Whilst assigning another worker to supervise a colleague when they perform an undertaking will stop that person from producing anything, it can often be necessary in order to prevent a serious accident whilst the individual they are supervising gets up to speed and increases their competency at the task, and hopefully to a level of ability which soon allows them to perform the task on their own in the future without the need for supervision.