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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.

Selected Courses

Please see below for a selection of health and safety courses and qualifications which you may be interested in:

NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety is the flagship NEBOSH qualification, and is the first UK vocational qualification to be developed specifically for health and safety professionals.

The NEBOSH National Diploma provides the core health and safety knowledge (transferable across industry, commerce and the public sector) which, combined with understanding and appropriate application, underpins the competent performance of an occupational health and safety practitioner.

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NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH General Certificate is one of the most popular and widely-held health and safety qualifications in the UK. It is intended to be taken by managers, supervisors and any other employees who require an understanding of general health and safety issues.

The NEBOSH General Certificate covers the main legal requirements for health and safety in the UK, along with the identification and control of workplace hazards, and the practical application of this knowledge. The general content of the NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus means it is suitable and relevant for those working in virtually any industry, and is often used as a solid foundation for those going on to further study and specialising in a particular area such as construction site health and safety or fire safety.

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IOSH Managing Safely Course

The IOSH Managing Safely course is designed for managers and supervisors of organisations in virtually all industry sectors, in order to give them all they need to know to effectively manage health and safety in the workplace.

Recently updated, the new high impact programme covers key health and safety issues, and includes references to international case studies.

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CITB Site Management SMSTS Course

The Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) is one of the most popular health and safety training courses, and is intended for construction site managers, project managers and senior supervisors, as well as proprietors of smaller companies.

Client-based personnel would also benefit from attending the SMSTS course.

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CITB Health and Safety Awareness Course

This course is for those who have entered, or are about to enter, the construction and civil engineering industry as a member of the workforce to help them understand the potential hazards that they face at work on site. It aims to provide a practical summary of health and safety, welfare and environmental health and safety issues.

The course also allows delegates to identify their individual responsibilities for looking after themselves and others, what the employer's duties are and what should be done if they think anyone's health and safety is being put at risk.

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