Want to keep workers safe and healthy? Start with your supervisors.

Empire State Building workersAccording to a study by Deloitte, American businesses spend $70 billion a year and corporate training is growing by 15% a year.  The question is not whether your company needs to train employees; it is where your investment in training will have the biggest payoff.

The evidence is growing that spending on training for your supervisors and front line managers may be the best investment of your training dollars if you want to increase productivity, improve safety culture and reduce the cost and severity of injuries.  Part of this is just commonsense.  Supervisors spend more time with employees and have more direct impact on shaping attitudes, engagement and culture than any other position within a company.  In companies where new workers learn on the job, supervisors may have the most important role in the company.

Now research from Liberty Mutual Insurance shows that training supervisors in the soft skills of how to communicate with and gain the trust of an injured worker is a significant factor in how long that worker stays off the job and the severity of certain injuries. The study looked at work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs), such as low back pain and upper extremity disorders.   They found that the supervisor’s interaction with a worker with WMSD had a lot to do with the level of treatment necessary and how long the worker was away from the job.  Now surprisingly, if the supervisor blames the worker for the injury and complains about delays in production or impacts on OSHA recordables, it has a negative impact on the injury.

But the most interesting result of the study was that a short training class for supervisors dramatically improved the outcome of future injuries for employees working under that supervisor.  Training supervisors on how to relate to employees and what to do immediately after an injury helps keep workers and the company bottom line healthier.

In another study, a food service consultant named Alchemy found that when they taught supervisors how to reinforce worker training with corrective observations, the companies involved in the study saw a 26% improvement in safety compliance.   Again, company programs and worker training may be wastes of time and money if supervisors aren’t on board with implementing them.


How are you training your supervisors?  Are you teaching them the skills that are proven to improve safety and production, like communication and responsibility?   Our supervisory and leadership class, Buddy-to-Boss, is designed to help line managers make the career transition to manage crews and represent the company.  Unlike most leadership classes, we can tailor classes to your specific needs and policies.  Contact us at info@lifelinestrategies.com to learn more.

 

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