Supervisors and Injury Rates
Are you and your coworkers susceptible to injuries and illnesses? Having a good supervisor can make all the difference.
Two studies conducted by the Institute for Work & Health examined various risk factors that lead a worker to be vulnerable to injury and how supervisors can mitigate those risks.
In the first study, workers were asked a series of questions to find out if they were exposed to physical or emotional hazards at work (lifting, twisting, standing, harassment, etc.), had health and safety policies and procedures in place at work, knew their rights and responsibilities regarding workplace safety, and felt able to speak out regarding health and safety. Workers were deemed to be vulnerable when they were exposed to hazards and lacked protective measures such as health and safety policies, worker awareness, or empowerment.
A second study found that having a good supervisor can make a huge difference. Of the workers who were considered vulnerable, 50 percent who didn’t have supportive supervisors had experienced a workplace-related injury/illness in the past year, compared to 25 percent of vulnerable workers who had a good supervisor.
Even workers not considered vulnerable experienced a huge drop in injuries/illnesses when they had a supportive supervisor. Nonvulnerable workers with poor supervisor support still experienced a 19 percent injury/illness rate, compared to 10 percent for their counterparts who had strong supervisor support.
How does a good supervisor make a difference? A supervisor who is committed to safety can advocate for workers who don’t know their rights or are powerless to advocate for themselves. In workplaces where strong policies and awareness exist, committed supervisors can help ensure those policies are followed and workers speak up in dangerous situations.
For workplaces looking to reduce their risk of injury or illness, a good place to start is ensuring supervisors are knowledgeable about—and dedicated to—workplace health and safety.