Super Agent

Don’t Overlook This Forgotten Treasure

When addressing injury management practices and processes, the person most likely to be overlooked to provide improvement in this area is the front-line supervisor. Supervisors are forgotten treasures in the injury management outcomes equation. Consider this:

  • They have firsthand knowledge of the injured employee, the work environment and the opportunities that exist in modified work assignments
  • They can directly influence the tone and message sent to injured workers on behalf of the employer
  • If they have an existing relationship with an employee based on trust and transparency, they can be made available to answer questions about their health and safety

In an interview with EHS Today, veteran of the chemical industry Paul Balmert said, “The guys doing the work pay a lot more attention to their front-line supervisor than they ever do the plant manager or the vice president,” Balmert said. “The biggest single mistake I saw in my 30 years was when managers didn’t understand or appreciate [that] and therefore didn’t take maximum advantage of that tremendously powerful leader out there.”

So, how can your clients make the most of this important asset?

Reviewing their training practices is the first step. Does training reflect and encourage return-to-work? Are supervisors encouraged to communicate and empathize with workers? Are they able to identify modified duty and transitional work assignments?

These are all good questions to ask when thinking about the best way to engage supervisors, and to ensure that a work culture of mutual respect exists. Having a conversation around supervisor training with your clients is a great way to help them discover the importance of focusing on better outcomes.

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