Making Supervision a Site-based Role for an Agile Approach to Health & Safety

November 2020

The constantly evolving health risk and response measures that have played out over the course of 2020 have reminded us that change is constant. We can’t always predict it or prepare for it in advance; we must be agile enough to respond in real time and vigilant enough to recognise new risk factors as they occur.

It’s a scenario we’re very familiar with in the scaffolding sector, where managing hazards to reduce risk for our own teams and others is an integral part of our role and our expertise. The health and safety measures designed into the scaffolding solution and the risk assessment carried out at the beginning of the project may not always be sufficient to anticipate risk throughout the programme, because new hazards can become apparent as the job progresses.

It’s for these reasons that Millcroft decided some time ago to shift the Site Supervisor role from a desk-based responsibility, visiting sites daily and returning to the office to review works, to a site-based responsibility within the Foreman’s role.

The move means that site specific risk assessments and method statements can be updated in real time in response to any changes to workplace conditions, which could include anything from inclement weather, to programme alterations or the number of people on site. It ensures we are able to react quickly in order to deliver a consistency and quality without compromise.


Training and Experience

The role of supervisor has always been a skilled job, requiring a professional who is both well-qualified and well-suited to the role. As a company that puts health and safety at the heart of everything we do, we go above and beyond the standard role requirements when appointing and training our foremen as supervisors. Their training includes at least a five-day Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) course, along with our in-house mental health training and experience in delivering complex scaffolding projects.

All our foremenare highly qualified in general site management, health and safety and leadership. They all have experience of identifying hazards and implementing control measures as part of day-to-day site management. Their role involves completing a daily checklist of hazards to mitigate risk, daily risk assessment reviews and a pre-start briefings for both our own team and those working in the area at the beginning of every shift, which includes our own activities and associated risk factors.

The Foreman questions all those who attend the briefing to verify their understanding, and will not allow work to commence until he is confident that all risks have been controlled.

Our Foremen’s supervision skills in identifying and managing risk on site are part of a collaborative heath and safety process which also includes our wider team. Careful planning includes input from both our SHEQ department and our transport department to co-ordinate safety on site and efficient planning of materials, routes and vehicle allocation.

Monitoring of projects by Millcroft’s safety managers and contracts managers, alongside regular director visits, audits and safety walk rounds, ensures every site is checked and scrutinised by a full team of professionals.


The Right Person for the Job

It’s not just training and experience that fits our foreman for the role of supervisor; we also ensure they have a natural aptitude for the job. It’s a responsibility that requires commitment, a can-do attitude and initiative, along with leadership abilities, attention to detail and excellent communication skills.

The role involves taking a tough approach to ensuring that everyone behaves safely on site and reports any hazards, but it also involves taking a nurturing approach to gaining trust and supporting the team. We look for people who have these personality traits and train them as mental health champions to ensure they have the ‘soft skills’ needed to respond sensitively to the team’s health and wellbeing needs.

Above all, the supervisor role delivers most value in reducing risk and ensuring productivity when it is delivered with a collaborative approach. The Foreman sets the tone for a safety culture on site at Millcroft and placing supervision responsibility within this role ensures health and safety best practice is embedded in day-to-day operations.

Making Supervision a Site-based Role for an Agile Approach to Health & Safety

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