Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Mobilizing Supervisors as Safety Leaders

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Mobilizing Supervisors as Safety Leaders

Article excerpt

How do you mobilize supervisors and make them your company's biggest cheerleaders for safety? It's not as tough as you think, says Rob Russell of Strategic Safety Associates.

Russell offered this advice at the National Safety Congress in Chicago: To mobilize supervisors, you must:

* Understand what you're dealing with (cultural resistance--a "we've always done it this way" mentality) and who you're influencing.

* Engage the supervisors in the safety process.

* Provide leadership.

There are organizational reasons (productivity is given a higher priority), personal reasons ("Safety takes care of that") and safety professional-related reasons (image in the organization as a number cruncher and/or the "safety cop") why some supervisors don't champion safety.

"Sometimes there's this feeling among supervisors that safety is just common sense," said Russell. "They think, 'Any idiot can figure this out.' Not true. We all know idiots have unique ways of figuring things out."

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Russell said supervisors fall into several profiles: achievers who take the lead on issues; followers who do what they are told; observers who do only what they can get away with doing; and resisters who display both active and passive resistance. …

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