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Safety training equips supervisors to lead and manage projects, people, processes and policies. This training is enhanced through frequent, regularly scheduled safety meetings involving supervisory staff and the company safety director. These intentional, agenda-driven meetings go beyond training and education, helping to develop relationships as challenges and successes are shared.

Substance abuse prevention should be a topic not only for supervisory safety training, but the challenges and successes surrounding it should also be a topic of discussion for supervisory safety meetings. With the state-by-state legalization of recreational cannabis, substance use needs to be addressed. It is crucial to understand local laws and company policies.

Whether through legal or illegal use, the construction industry has suffered from the effects of substance impairment for decades. Some companies are responding with high-tech impairment recognition devices or smartphone apps that measure cognitive function or eye response or can even detect cannabis in saliva. Other companies are doubling down on high-touch impairment recognition by starting each day with a huddle that allows the crew leader to evaluate impairment as they perform task-specific planning (Job Hazard Analysis, Activity Hazard Analysis, Pre-Task Plan, etc.) and a stretch and flex. Likewise, some companies are adapting their behavior-based safety observation system to include recognition of possible impairment.

As a company’s safety culture matures, safety meetings with the supervisory staff and safety director will eventually provide the value of a peer group. Safety directors have shared stories of the first time they got a call from a superintendent who proactively asked for advice a week before a critical lift or complex operation. Others shared that superintendents call each other more often for safety advice due to these meetings. Everyone needs a group to belong to where they are heard, understood and willing to hold each other accountable.

Times are changing, and supervisors need to be engaged and equipped to ensure the right things happen at the right time and for the right reason. Holding regular safety meetings creates the environment in which supervisors are set up for success.

Looking for help building your safety program?

Discover resources available through ABC’s STEP Safety Management System and other health and safety topics at

For more information or assistance, please reach out to Joe Xavier or Aaron Braun.