A lead hand, or leading hand, is an experienced worker in charge of a small group of employees in the same trade. The lead hand plays an intermediate role between workers and supervisors. Major construction sites may have a welding lead hand, a construction lead hand and an electrical lead hand – all reporting to the site supervisor. Lead hands are also found in production facilities such as food or beverage processing plants. The lead hand is responsible for the smooth and safe operation of his team, helping the workers to meet goals, and mediating concerns with upper management.
The lead hand coordinates the team and is responsible for applying policies and procedures. She is involved with, and supportive of, disciplinary actions brought about by supervisors. Other duties may include arranging for extra workers, evaluating the quality of work of team members, organizing crew tasks, maintaining work standards, resolving issues between team members, and mentoring apprentices.
Safety in the Work Site
The lead hand promotes a safe work environment and is responsible for the safety of his crew. The lead hand must understand the legal liability of this role and any related occupational and safety laws. He may also make certain his team members comply with safety regulations, identify a need for safety training, complete an initial safety and hazard assessment, participate in accident investigations, and see to timely resolution of safety concerns.
The lead hand is accountable for her team’s ability to meet production goals.She must identify requirements for specific materials or tools and communicate these requests to the appropriate person. The lead hand informs her supervisor of any scheduling conflicts and assists in resolving them. She understands the need to prioritize work schedules to meet goals.
Experience and Salary
A lead hand will have an average of 10 to 20 years of experience in his trade. Lead hands with fewer than five years of experience are rare. Lead hand salaries vary based on experience, company, location and other factors. For example, a welder lead hand earns a yearly salary ranging from $33,250 to $72,918 as of May 2017, according to Payscale. Carpenter lead hands earn a yearly salary ranging from $23,362 to $82,581.