Safety Bob
Safety Management Consultants

TALK #13

It’s What Happens When the Supervisor’s Not Around That’s Really Important

What happens at work when the supervisor’s not around? Is there a foreman or lead person that can be left “in control” to manage your operation for short periods without real problems occurring? Or will safety and other controls go by the wayside in the supervisor’s absence? Ask yourself those questions – because unfortunately this happens all the time, just like the following example which actually occurred at a U.S. construction site.

OSHA arrived for a surprise inspection at a construction site and the supervisor (or superintendent) was not on the job. He had been moved to another more time critical project for that week, leaving only a skeleton crew of his employees working on the site OSHA visited. Despite the limited crew on a supposedly “easy” work week, OSHA found 9 serious violations and fined the Company over $12,000. The superintendent’s initial response was, “Had he been at the site when OSHA arrived he would have kept them (OSHA) in the site trailer for at least an hour, implying that many of the violations would have been corrected within that time span, and furthermore, he couldn’t believe that his subcontractors had taken down many of the job’s safety protections in just several days.” In light of those excuses the list of violations is scary at best, and includes:

  • Energized electrical receptacles missing face plates $1,000 fine
  • 4 separate fall protection violations (employees over 20 ft. high) $3,600 fine
  • Additional fall protection rail system inadequate (missing rails) $1,350 fine
  • No fall protection training provided to employees on site $2,625 fine
  • Ladder not secured and not 3 feet above upper landing $2,250 fine
  • No ground fault circuit interrupters on numerous receptacle’s $1,250 fine

Total fines $12,075.00

The safety violations noted above and the superintendent’s initial responses say much about his leadership style, or lack thereof, and just how important safety is to the employees on this site. What would happen to safety controls at your site if the superintendent was gone for a week?

Make sure that safety doesn’t suffer in the superintendent’s absence, because that’s when many serious accidents can occur.

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