Workers with supervisors who don’t encourage safe practices and aren’t aware of the hazards involved in their jobs are 3.5 times more likely to be injured at work, according to new Canadian research.
The Institute for Work and Health researchers surveyed 2,390 Canadians and found workers who reported having a supervisor who was unsupportive of health and safety were between 20 and 30 percent more likely to have experienced a workplace injury in the last year.
These researchers say that whilst implementing organisational-level safety change is often a challenge, building a supervisor’s capacity in OHS management can be an important and effective way to reduce the risk of injury.
“In small businesses where budget limitations prevent adoption of costly engineering controls or worker training, investing in the safety knowledge and capacity of supervisors can help create a safer environment for workers.”
“Because of their immediate day-to-day presence and direct relationship with workers, supervisors wield significant influence over the safety-related behaviours of workers.”
The researchers consider a supervisor supportive of health and safety outcomes if they prioritise safety, emphasise safety in interactions, provide tools and safety equipment, respond to safety concerns, and reward safety behaviour.
“A supervisor who is aware of hazards in the workplace and who understands safety risks can play a critical role in creating a safe work environment.”
“In addition, supervisors who are actively committed to safety and who proactively identify problems before they arise can have a meaningful impact on injury prevention and other positive safety outcomes.”
The researches noted that although supervisor-level safety support may be effective in managing risks, it was important to note that reducing and preventing injuries still required an organisational commitment to safety.