Why making sure a new employee is educated on safe workplace processes is the smartest business decision a manager can make
New employees are usually eager to get to work and show their value to their boss and co-workers. However, it's the job of a manager to temper that enthusiasm, and take the necessary time to familiarize all first-time workers with onsite safety procedures and work practices before giving them the green light to take on all tasks.
You are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace
As an employer, you’re responsible for the health and safety of your workers. Having orientation and training programs in place, and documenting your staff’s participation is a good way to ensure that everyone receives consistent training. "Employers should feel confident that their workers have learned safe work procedures and are well-trained to do their jobs," says Glen McIntosh, manager, new and young worker and small business with WorkSafeBC. "After training, get workers to show you, or tell you, how to do each task."
McIntosh's advice can open up a dialogue with new employees who may be afraid to speak up. Newer hires want to be seen as competent in their new roles and may prefer to try the tasks for themselves, but often lack the experience and training required to stay safe on the job. Training for young workers—age 15 to 25—is especially important as over half of all their serious injuries will occur during the first six months of employment.
What you can do to help
There are a number of components to young and new worker orientation and training. Here are three key steps to help prevent workplace injuries:
1. Use a checklist
This can make the orientation easier to follow and more thorough. It can also serve as a record of employee training. Here’s a sample checklist that you can customize to meet the orientation needs of your workplace.
2. Train young and new workers with particular focus on:
o Performing tasks safely
o Operating machines and equipment safely
o Using and maintaining any required personal protective equipment, such as gloves or goggles
o Following safe work procedures
3. Document and replay
Have your workers show you how to do the task after training. This helps you ensure that they can do it safely. It’s also important to document your workers’ training and keep it with their files.
Training, turnover and teamwork
Training for safety is an important part of the larger new employee orientation program. It helps keep your workers stay safe, and decreases their chances of getting injured. McIntosh points out another positive side effect of a solid training program: confident and skilled employees who are well versed in company procedures may also translate to more engaged employees.
"While safety rests with the employer, contributing to a safe and healthy work environment is a shared responsibility of staff and management," says McIntosh. "All workers have the right to participate in safety programs, and highly engaged staff are able to be contributing members of a Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee."
WorkSafeBC has recently redesigned its website for easier navigation, and has many resources online available for download, as well as information packages available by request: