As an employer, you expect new hires to make some mistakes. It comes with the territory. Those mistakes may result in lost productivity, but employees usually learn valuable lessons from them.
Some mistakes, however, don’t include a second chance. Employees who have been on the job less than one year are at increased risk of being injured or killed in work-related accidents. About one-third of job-related fatalities involve employees who have been on the job for less than 90 days, according to recent Texas Mutual® statistics. That’s why workplace safety should be a key component of every new employee’s orientation.
The first few days and weeks on the job are the most critical for safety training. If new employees start practicing unsafe work behaviors early, those habits can be hard to break. The key is to teach them to do their jobs safely before you let them start working.
A good safety training program meets regulatory requirements and prepares new workers for the unique hazards they will face on the job. It can also be a good refresher course for current workers who take on new tasks.
Include hands-on demonstrations of personal protective equipment, the safety features on machines, and the safest way to perform each task. Ask employees to repeat the procedure until you are confident they can do it.
Supervisors should allow employees to adapt at their own pace. If your employees do not understand a procedure, encourage them to ask questions. Every employee should trust that management will not reprimand them for reporting unsafe conditions or asking questions.
Earning this kind of trust requires action. If management demonstrates a commitment to safety, new employees are likely to follow their lead. Likewise, experienced workers can team up with new employees to help them correct unsafe behaviors before they become bad habits.
Safety training should be an ongoing process. Follow up throughout the year with ergonomic evaluations, safety inspections and other activities that reinforce the importance of a safe work environment.
If you show employees that safety is as important as quality and production, they are more likely to buy into the safety program. Once they do, you have taken the first step toward instilling behaviors that will help new employees become safe, productive members of your workforce for years to come.