University Safety and Assurances

Supervisor's Safety Information

Chapter XII. The Safety Program

The responsibility for the health and safety of assigned employees is primarily vested in the supervisor. Supervisors play a critical role in ensuring understanding of safety practices, and providing incentive to do things right.

Every Wisconsin State Agency has a legal obligation to provide and maintain a safe and healthful workplace for its employees according to Wisconsin State Statute 101.055. In addition, each agency is required by Governor Thompson's Executive Order #194 to develop and implement a written comprehensive health and safety program to reduce the incidence of workplace injuries and illness. A copy of Executive Order #194, can be found on page 7 of Safety Fundamentals for Supervisors.

Supervisors have an affirmative responsibility to set up and maintain a safety program. The key principles include: personal protection, the work environment, proper equipment maintenance, safety education, departmental supervision and control, records, inspections, investigations and analysis.

The UWM Department of University Safety and Assurances (x6339) is available for consultation in any of these areas. Also check the US&A home page for detailed safety guidance. In addition, two valuable resources to assist you in developing your written safety program are A Guide to Developing Your Written Health and Safety Program, and Safety Fundamentals for Supervisors. These are published by the Wisconsin Bureau of State Risk Management, and are available from the Department of University Safety & Assurances.

The supervisor must continually review safety measures for their relationship to the physical well being of every student, visitor, and employee on the campus. The following is a list of some of the principle responsibilities that supervisors have in the area of health and safety for all employees under his or her supervision.

The following is a list of some of the principle responsibilities that supervisors have in the area of health and safety:

  1. Development of Proper Attitudes
    • The supervisor is responsible for the development of the proper attitude toward health and safety in all workers under his/her supervision. There is no single way to develop such an attitude. However, the following two activities will help promote the development of a positive attitude:

      Personal Example - the supervisor must set the proper example by his/her personal behavior. When a work area or situation requires personal protective apparel, the supervisor must also use the necessary apparel. In addition, the supervisor must never act unsafely or violate a safety rule or an established safe work practice.

      Acceptance of Responsibilities - the supervisor can best convince other employees of the importance of health and safety issues by carrying out his/her safety responsibilities conscientiously and with conviction.

  2. Knowledge of Safe Work Procedures
    • The supervisor is responsible for knowing the safe work procedures that must be used to perform each job task. It is also his/her responsibility to know what personal protective equipment is needed for each task and how this equipment must be properly used and maintained.

  3. Orientation and Training of Employees
    • It is the supervisor's responsibility to train and instruct employees so they can perform their work safely. This includes the proper use of machinery, hand tools, and the use of chemicals and other hazardous materials. The supervisor should also stress the importance of proper body mechanics and lifting techniques to prevent back and other related injuries. Special attention and instruction should be given to new employees or employees who have been recently assigned to a new job. All training provided by the supervisor should be documented. A comprehensive list of required or recommended health and safety training programs is found on page 121 of Safety Fundamentals for Supervisors.

  4. Detection Of Employee Personal Difficulties
    • The supervisor should make every reasonable effort to observe each worker under his/her supervision some time during each workday. It is the supervisor's responsibility (within reasonable limits) to detect personal difficulties such as illness or disability among his/her workers. When such conditions are detected, proper action should be taken.

  5. Enforcement of Safe Practices and Regulations
    • It is the supervisor's responsibilities to enforce safe work practices and procedures. Failure to do so invites in an increase in unsafe acts and conditions.

  6. Conducting Planned Observations
    • The supervisor should conduct planned observations of his/her employees for the purpose of insuring compliance with safe work procedures. Whenever unsafe acts are observed, the supervisor should inform the worker immediately and explain why the act was unsafe. Depending upon the circumstance, disciplinary action may be warranted.

  7. Prevention of Unsafe Conditions
    • Many unsafe conditions are the result of what employees do or fail to do properly. It is the supervisor's responsibility to train and periodically remind employees of what conditions to look for, and how to correct or report these conditions.

  8. Conducting Planned Safety Inspections
    • The supervisor should conduct periodic inspections of tools, vehicles, machinery and assigned work areas. Planned inspections are an effective and systematic method of discovering physical conditions that could contribute to a work injury. A good safety checklist for DIHLR compliance is found on page 57 of Safety Fundamentals for Supervisors.

  9. Conducting Safety Meetings
    • The supervisor should periodically conduct safety meetings to help increase safety awareness and keep employees informed about their organizations health and safety programs. Safety meetings should be kept short and cover relevant topics such as recent job accidents or specific job hazards.

  10. Correcting Unsafe Conditions
    • The supervisor should take immediate steps to correct unsafe conditions within his/her authority and ability. When an unsafe condition cannot be immediately corrected, the supervisor should take temporary precautionary measure. A follow-up system should also be used to ensure that corrective measures are completed in a timely fashion.

  11. Investigating Unsafe Conditions
    • The supervisor is responsible for conducting accident investigations as soon after the accident as possible. All the facts and opinions regarding the causes of the accident should be compiled and documented.

  12. You are also responsible for becoming familiar with Worker's Compensation so you can advise your employees regarding their rights. Contact the Workers Compensation office at 229-5652 for additional information. You should also become familiar with campus procedures regarding accident reporting, payment of claims, and form completion. Contact the UWM Risk Manager at x6374 for additional information.