A lot of what we do here at Minedex is keeping you up to date with the information you need about getting your start in the mining industry.
With the industry gaining momentum, let’s take a look at the difficult situation – once you have landed a job – of working with a bad supervisor.
Mining is a hazardous environment and is undertaken in locations that can be challenging and isolated. There are a lot of great supervisors in the industry, and an effective supervisor in mining can be worth more than a good supervisor in other industries.
Likewise, a bad supervisor will not only make your new job unbearable but, in a worst-case scenario, can place employees at risk.
It’s worth noting that the odds of encountering a ‘bad’ or ineffective supervisor in the mining industry are very slim. Companies now have training programs for supervisors, and strict policies and procedures to follow. There are also workplace laws and regulations. So, the vast majority of supervisors are effective, knowledgeable and efficient.
A lot of information online covers how to deal with a bad supervisor in an office environment or in a corporate world where human resources are in the next office. But when you are on shift, working in an open pit or underground, or your work team is located several hundred kilometres away, the support of HR is not always available.
A good mining industry supervisor:
-Knows their subject matter and is competent
-Never compromises on safety, health and environmental issues
-Manages the workplace and ensures it is free of risks and hazards
-Applies suitable risk management strategy to their planning
-Holds required qualifications for their role
-Coordinates resources effectively
-Knows the health and safety legislation and the mining regulations relevant to their role
-Is approachable, adaptable and a positive influence on the team they are leading
-Leads by example
-Listens to feedback and communicates appropriately with everyone.
A bad or ineffective mine supervisor:
-Lacks the experience and/or knowledge to provide direction and training
-Doesn’t listen to the team and thinks they know everything
-Could be a bully
-Doesn’t ensure procedures and processes are being followed
-Lacks interest in achieving required goals or, alternatively, could be focused on achieving those goals at all costs.
Poor or bad leadership from a mining supervisor can lead to:
-Low team morale
-Poorly trained personnel and high staff turnover
-Unwanted events (for example, a higher number of near misses, incidents and accidents
-Poor hazard and risk identification
If you have a bad supervisor, don’t feel helpless. There are things you can do. (And your health, mental health, and safety could depend on you taking action.)
Here’s what you can do:
-Think about why you (and maybe your teammates) think the supervisor is ineffective. Is it something a leading hand could discuss with the supervisor?
-Could you discuss your concerns with the supervisor yourself? At times it can be simpler to approach a supervisor directly with how their actions are impacting you. They may well be completely unaware, or they are new and will appreciate the feedback. Of course, sometimes that is not the case
-What is the procedure for raising concerns? Companies now have procedures in place to manage concerns raised by employees
-Is it a one-off incident or are they always this way?
-Is it a health or safety issue? Remember, some things are not ok, and you are well within your rights as an employee to raise these immediately. Everyone in mining has a ‘duty of care’, whereby employers are legally bound to provide and maintain a safe workplace, and each person at the mine is responsible for his or her safety, and for the safety of others
-If you are unsure, is there a safety and training department or occupational health and safety representative you can ask?
As we’ve already said, there is a lot of information online, but knowing the company processes and policy on raising concerns should be explained in your induction. If it’s not, ask. While your chances of having to use the procedure because of an ineffective supervisor are quite low, it’s better to be prepared.
Dealing with an ineffective supervisor is never easy, but having come this far to get an entry-level mining job, it is worth doing all you can to make the most of the opportunity.