By Joanna Weekes
Supervision in your workplace is an essential part of ensuring that you maintain a safe working environment for your workers. But the way you supervise people in your workplace will differ depending on a number of factors.
Factors that influence how you supervise workers include:
- the nature of the work being undertaken, e.g. high-risk or low-risk;
- the nature of the work environment where the work is being undertaken, e.g. remote or isolated; and
- the type of worker carrying out the job.
Today we will look at the different procedures that are required to supervise different types of workers, such as:
- young workers;
- experienced workers; and
- contractors with specialist skills.
A worker with little experience, e.g. an apprentice or a young worker, requires a higher level of supervision than a tradesperson or an experienced worker.
As the experience, capability and knowledge of the apprentices or younger workers grow, the level of supervision that you provide them can decrease.
But do not reduce the supervision of a younger worker until you are sure they are ready.
You need to make sure that the worker knows to ask for guidance if they have any doubt about the work task they are carrying out.
Experienced workers generally require less supervision. However, workers who have done a job many times before tend to get complacent and can start to take shortcuts. So a supervisor must be vigilant about these kinds of risks.
Complacency is one of the greatest risks to health and safety in the workplace.
Experienced workers also need closer supervision when new plant or equipment is introduced or when new work processes are adopted.
A contractor who comes into your workplace may have specialist trade skills and will require less supervision than an inexperienced worker.
In many cases, a supervisor will not have the same technical knowledge as a contractor, which may make it difficult to ensure that the contractor is carrying out their work properly. But if your supervisor does not have detailed knowledge of the task the contractor is undertaking, their role will be to ensure that the contractor complies with safety requirements and has considered and documented a safe system of work.
Every contractor you engage must be able to demonstrate their technical capability to conduct the work and to comply with your health and safety requirements while working at your worksite, e.g. by showing you their licence.