If your idea of orienting a new employee is to introduce them around and show them the bathroom and the coffee room, you need to reorient yourself.
New employees are five times more likely than experienced workers to suffer a lost-time injury on the job in their first month at work. What’s more, two in five workers injured on the job have been doing it less than a year.
Why are “newbies” so vulnerable, and more important, what can you do about it?
This vulnerability results from a combination of ignorance and fear by workers and employers alike. New workers are unfamiliar with the tools, conditions, and most important, safety hazards, associated with the job. However, many employers assume that new employees know more than they do. Certain jobs require precautions that might seem like common sense to someone who has spent years doing them, but that newcomers have never even thought about.
Rookie workers are often afraid to ask questions, so that they won’t seem unable to do the job and be vulnerable to termination. Questions also reinforce supervisors’ awareness of safety issues by reminding them of things that they didn’t explain fully or forgot to mention. Supervisors need to keep reminding new workers that the more questions, the better.
To encourage safe-mindedness on the job from Day One:
Acclimate new hires to workplace safety starts as soon as possible. Orientation is the perfect place to introduce safety training to a new worker. The new hire packet should include a safety policy that covers generic concerns and sources for additional information so that the employee feels comfortable asking questions.
Incorporate safety information in your walk-through, pointing out the safety elements you’ve built in, such as the location of fire exits and extinguishers, first-aid kits, and eyewash stations. Stress less obvious safety features, such as letting new workers know that they can improve safety by keeping walkways clean and clear. Imparting safety knowledge will also make the newcomer feel valued and informed, leading to a more engaged and productive employee.
Finally, if you haven’t already done so, set up and monitor a comprehensive safety training program for new hires.
Our risk management professionals would be happy to offer their advice. Just give us a call, or send an e-mail