Safety is absolutely paramount in any high-risk field. Employers should take it very seriously and make every effort to encourage the enforcement of safety rules. Staff training, informational posters, video trainings, and memos — there are numerous ways that employers attempt to keep workers up-to-date and focused on safety procedures. What’s the best tool for enforcing workplace safety rules? Your supervisors.

They’re your eyes on the ground and the first line of defense. This makes them incredibly valuable and a key part of any implementation plan. When introducing new rules or enhancing existing ones, your supervisors will bear the most responsibility for enforcing them. Here’s how you can set supervisors up for success.

Create a culture of safety by focusing on safety rather than change. When introducing any new rules; first address the ways it will improve safety knowledge and conditions, as well as hopefully lower incident occurrences. Spotlighting safety instead of change may seem like a subtle distinction, but it’s an important one. The language you use can shape how people think about the message.

Though supervisors are greatly concerned with safety, they’re also concerned with production and efficiency. They may become resistant if they feel that the imposition of new guidelines on them will affect the efficient systems they’ve developed. Be sure they know how much you value their work. Acknowledge the impact and assure them that you know it will take time and effort to realign their production to accommodate for new rules and guidelines. Employees who feel valued are more likely to comply or even go above and beyond what is asked of them.

Incremental change can allow supervisors more time to implement new rules and can give them a chance to build staff support. Supervisors can slowly alter the current work patterns of employees and make adjustments as they go to ensure compliance and excellence. If it is possible to give supervisors the extra time to make these changes, you’re more apt to get supervisors on board and more likely to get workers to buy into the new procedure.

You can empower and support your supervisors to make positive changes through building a culture of safety, valuing your supervisors and allowing incremental adjustments. Your supervisors are incredibly important as they are your first line of defense in matters of workplace safety. Implementation will be faster and built to last when you make your workers feel like a team.