How to keep new employees safe on the job

new employee forkliftMore than half of the 2.9 million workplace injuries and illnesses that occurred in 2015 involved days away from work, job transfers, or days with restricted job duties, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many of these injuries and illnesses occur among new employees, but that includes more than just brand new employees. It also includes people who transfer to a new position, return to work after an extended absence, operate a new piece of equipment or implement a new procedure.

Keeping your employees safe on the job means ensuring safety among every employee in every role. Here are a few safety tips to help you bridge the gap on safety training for your new employees.

Start early, and be thorough

The sooner new employees start practicing safe work behaviors, the more likely those behaviors are to become habits. Don’t just explain what to do; take time to explain what not to do and what the consequences may be if safe work procedures are not followed. Ask employees to repeat procedures or tasks until you are confident they can do the job safely.

Follow-up training should be part of the new employee orientation process. Those first days at a new job are filled with many new procedures, rules and activities. Frequent follow-up gives new employees the opportunity to ask questions with less hesitation. When new employees consistently demonstrate they understand the new task, less frequent follow-up is necessary. If employees do not understand a procedure, encourage them to ask questions. It takes more than one day to turn a new employee into a safe, productive worker.

Provide a clear and concise safety policy

New employees need to know there is a comprehensive commitment to safety throughout the company. Put your commitment in writing, and make it visible for new staff, as well as current personnel. It is critical that new employees avoid taking risks. Encourage them to ask questions if they do not understand safety procedures. New employees have to trust that management will not reprimand them for seeking help.

Enforce this simple rule among all employees, including new employees: If a task or action makes you uncomfortable or raises a concern, don’t do it!

Think prevention

Most injuries can be avoided if employees learn to recognize unsafe situations. Encouraging new employees to think about prevention will make them more aware of unsafe practices and better prepared to help their co-workers.

Management takes the lead

Management often relies on employees to report unsafe conditions or hazards in the workplace. Therefore, employees must feel comfortable approaching a manager or supervisor about these conditions. Employees should not be reprimanded for reporting unsafe working conditions. If management demonstrates a commitment to safety, new employees are likely to follow their lead.

Observe often, and provide feedback

While new employees are learning and adapting to the job, it is essential to observe and monitor their work practices and behaviors. Observation helps to determine whether new employees are taking safety training to heart. It also creates an opportunity for supervisors to provide feedback on a new employee’s performance.

Make safety resources available

Providing employees with clear, written communications about your company’s safety expectations and practices is key to ensuring there is a consistent message about workplace safety.

Remembering these precautions when introducing a new hire to the company’s safety practices can greatly increase efficiency, productivity, morale and profitability. More importantly, it can prevent accidents and injuries.

As you get ready for the New Year and prepare for internal changes and new hires at your business, follow these guidelines to prevent workplace injuries. Visit the safety resource center of your texasmutual.com account for more than 2,000 free resources, including 200 e-Learning courses to keep your employees safe.

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