Companies that are proactive and have achieved sustained safety excellence understand that safety rightly belongs to line management. They have taken steps to ensure that all front-line supervisors are properly trained, are knowledgeable of company policies and procedures, and employ safe work practices. In many cases, they have also taken steps to get supervisors certified in safety. Unfortunately, these companies are the exception and not the rule.
It has been the experience of the author that over the last 40 years, most companies have not done an adequate job of properly preparing an employee to take on the role of a supervisor. They take their best welder (or any craft position) and make him/her a foreman. In doing so, they have accomplished two things: they have lost their best welder, and may now have their worst supervisor. This person has gone from burning rods one day to leading people the next. So, what happened overnight? Was there some magical transformation that has taken place? No! And herein lies the problem. This paper will focus on what the author feels are the key components to developing leadership at the line management level, and making a difference in an effective safety process. This paper will emphasize that a supervisor can be your absolute best safety resource, given the right training, knowledge, and an accredited certification.