Safety supervisors have an eagle eye for hazards in the workplace and other
areas. They spot potential accident sites and fix them. They teach others
to reduce their safety risks.
You'll find safety supervisors working in schools, government buildings,
hospitals and large corporations.
A safety supervisor is usually a scientist, an engineer or a health professional
with training or experience in occupational health and safety.
In addition to looking out for potential hazards, safety supervisors monitor
the work of waste management specialists, hazardous materials personnel, fire
safety officers, industrial hygiene workers and ergonomics specialists.
Safety supervisors also have the important task of communicating the importance
of safety to others. This is often a difficult task in a world where we only
think about safety after something goes wrong.
"People tend to think I overreact about things because accidents are always
things that happen in other companies," says safety supervisor Colin Johnson,
who works in a manufacturing plant.
The specific duties of a safety supervisor vary from one job to the next,
but in general a safety supervisor is always on the lookout for anything that
might cause an accident. After a few years on the job, they start to see things
differently than most people.
"You notice burned out light bulbs, missing bricks on walkways, things
blocking stairwells -- it just gets built into you. I'm always on the lookout
for these things, no matter where I am," says Dave Dietsch, safety supervisor
for the University of Maryland in Baltimore.
For the most part, a safety supervisor can expect to work a standard 40-hour
week, but there's very little time spent behind a desk. They're on their feet
a lot, supervising others, checking buildings, meeting with administration
and management and even traveling to other locations.
Part of the nature of the job involves dealing with dangerous situations
and hazardous materials. While safety supervisors aren't necessarily working
directly in dangerous situations, they should expect to be subjected to dangerous
With lawsuits on the increase and government legislation becoming stricter,
their jobs are becoming more important and more complex. In fact, safety supervisors
are a crucial part of any large company or institution.
"My department is sometimes called risk management because I minimize the
risks associated with doing business today," says Johnson.