Nurse supervisors have a lot on their plate, and understandably so. One of the most important responsibilities of a nurse supervisor is to ensure the safety and health of their team. Even when work gets busy, a good nurse supervisor regularly takes a moment to reflect on these 4 things to help maintain a safe work environment.


1. Hazard identification, risk assessment, and hazard control

When it comes to physical harm, one of the greatest preventative measures is awareness. By being aware of potential risks, the likelihood of their occurrence and how to prevent incidents, you can better protect your team.

WorkSafe BC recommends that Healthcare Supervisors reflect on the following:

  • Where and how staff might be harmed (what hazards exist).
  • How likely it is that harm will occur (the amount of risk involved).
  • What to do to prevent harm from occurring (how to control hazards).


2. Work-related violence

Perhaps one of the most disturbing risks that nurses face is workplace violence. As nurses work closely with patients who are under stress and facing physical challenges they may be the target of aggression and violence, which may result from the patient’s mental or medical condition.

WorkSafe BC recommends the following controls be implemented to reduce the risk of employee injury from violence within a healthcare setting:

  • A screening program to identify people with a history of violent behaviour.
  • An alert notification policy and system and control measures that both clinicians and support staff are fully aware of for dealing with the risk of exposure to violent behaviour.
  • A behavioural care plan based on a person’s needs, likes, and dislikes.
  • A training program on how to recognize and deal with escalating behaviour.
  • Clear communication regarding visiting hours (where applicable) and expectations of family and visitor conduct.
  • Closed circuit camera monitoring systems; for example, a camera could be used to monitor the area outside a locked door so staff could visually assess the person and situation before opening the door.
  • Automatic door-closing and locking devices for medication room doors.
  • Telephones or panic buttons for high-risk areas.
  • Lock-down procedures that can be used with controlled entry points.
  • Secure access between a facility and outside or between different areas of a facility.


3. Observe your staff

Getting to know your staff and how they work can be one of the most significant ways a nurse supervisors can reduce risk within a healthcare workplace. That’s because it allows you to observe whether your team members are using safe practices and where they are not safely performing their work.

Regularly take time to watch how tasks are being done by your staff and, as WorkSafe BC recommends, follow up with your staff to:

  • Ask about safety concerns or issues that should be addressed.
  • Recognize and reinforce good practices.
  • Correct unsafe practices.

4. Due diligence

One of the most important things to regularly reflect on as a nurse supervisor is whether or not you’ve done your due diligence. According to WorkSafe BC due diligence means that you have taken “all reasonable steps to prevent injuries, illness, or accidents in the workplace and protect the well-being of workers.”

Essentially, it is your responsibility to identify situations that may be hazardous to your team and take action to correct them. To create a system of due diligence, keep records of:

  • Steps taken to identify hazards.
  • Actions taken to eliminate or minimize hazards, and correct reported hazards.
  • Training that staff received and when they received it.
  • When inspections and investigations were conducted and what actions were taken to solve problems.
  • When safety information was shared with staff (for example, at staff or department meetings, during shift changes, during one- on-one meetings).


The role of a nurse supervisor

Being a nurse supervisor is a challenging role, but extremely rewarding. The work that you do for your team allows them to reach their full potential within their own role, and to do so safely. For further information on ensuring your staff are safe and healthy, check out this free guide by WorkSafe BC.

As the role of a Nurse Supervisor is highly valuable within any healthcare setting, there are sometimes temporary travel placements available for nurse supervisors who are looking to explore new experiences. View our current travel nursing opportunities or contact our recruitment team today to see where your career could take you!