Safety is a very important aspect of construction and one that is closely regulated and supervised in large companies. The safety record of a company has an impact on which projects a company can bid, its insurance rates, and of course its employees’ well-being. This is where the role of a safety supervisor is valuable. Construction safety supervisors may work as part of a safety department team or may oversee the safety of an entire company. The requirements to become a construction safety supervisor may vary from area to area, but experience with and knowledge of construction safety is essential.
Most countries have government regulations regarding construction and an agency which regulates them. In the United States that agency is the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) and in Europe, it is the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. A construction safety supervisor must have working, practical knowledge of the rules and regulations as they apply to their specific industry and is required to have certain renewable certifications obtainable directly through the agency. Other certifying agencies as acknowledged by the appropriate agency may also be required.
In addition to a strong knowledge of safety regulations, additional education may also be required to become a construction safety supervisor. Some areas in the construction field, such as public works, often require a bachelor’s degree in environmental health and safety, public health and safety or a related field of study. Experience working as part of a safety team or department member may also be required before becoming a supervisor.
Along with education, training, and experience, communication and leadership skills are essential to become a construction safety supervisor. On many project sites, the safety supervisor is responsible for not only their company’s employees but also for subcontractors. This will require regular communication with management of other companies and routine inspection of standard work practices and site procedures. Furthermore, communicating safety requirements with all levels of the workforce is essential to cooperation. Other job responsibilities may involve developing and implementing safety programs and incentives, filing paperwork, and routinely obtaining continuing education on best practices and regulations.
A job as a construction safety supervisor can be very rewarding, but is also a big responsibility. Regular travel may be involved and supervising some projects may require long hours. There are job opportunities in both the private and public sectors as well as opportunities to advance to training positions and work with the governing safety organizations in your area.