New Employee Safety Orientation and Why It’s Important
Starting a new job is often a whirlwind of training. From learning the nitty-gritty of everyday life at the company – like how to access your email or where to find supplies – to sessions about the company culture, your first days on the job are typically spent learning more about what you will be doing than actually doing it.
Often wedged somewhere between sessions about your company’s history and how to use your vacation hours are training sessions about safety. While safety training is prioritized in certain fields like construction, it’s not always given the level of attention it deserves in other industries.
Even though workplace injuries are three times more likely to occur in employees who have held their job for three months or less, safety training is often limited. In many cases, this is the only time that on-the-job safety is mentioned, at least until an accident happens or the company prepares for an audit.
Occupational safety and health experts note that such an approach to safety is inadequate and could potentially cost employers millions of dollars in worker’s compensation claims and lost productivity. Rather, they recommend that companies implement comprehensive new employee safety training programs based on best practices in workplace safety to prevent injuries and keep costs in check.
New Employees Are Susceptible to Injury
Why would orientation for new employees be a good time to introduce health and safety? New employees may be susceptible to injury for the following reasons:
- Employers may assume that new hires already know how to perform their jobs safely.
- Employers may not emphasize a culture of safety.
- New hires may not be familiar with the required personal protective equipment, and rules regarding PPE may not be consistently enforced.
- New hires may not know which questions to ask about safety, or they may be reluctant to ask.
- New hires may not know whom to talk to, whether it’s an emergency or even a basic question.
- Training may be focused primarily on accomplishing tasks, ignoring the hazards associated with those tasks.
Injuries are also common among seasonal workers; often, seasonal workers are asked to complete tasks that are better handled by more experienced workers, but because they are new, they may be less willing to ask for assistance.
New employees may face any combination of these barriers to safety training when they begin a job. Therefore, it’s important for employers to work with a knowledgeable and experienced safety professional to develop a comprehensive training program that includes safety discussions during onboarding and on a regular basis.
Developing a New Employee Safety Training Program
Ideally, new employee safety training programs should address topics such as:
- Building and supporting a culture of safety and a commitment to preventing injuries.
- OSHA requirements related to the job and the organization, including each employee’s right to refuse to do any work they deem unsafe until safety protocols have been implemented.
- Procedures for responding to and reporting safety hazards and emergencies.
- Reminders that employees have a right to report safety hazards, injuries and incidents without the threat of any repercussions.
- Risks associated with common daily tasks.
- Workplace safety training rules during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ideally, safety training should take place before an employee starts work, during their new employee orientation. However, because of the amount of material typically presented during orientation sessions, it’s a good idea to follow up with refresher trainings and updates throughout the year.
Regularly reiterating safety guidelines also helps to create a culture of safety within the organization. When you put a priority on avoiding accidents, remind employees of best practices, and – most importantly – enforce your rules and regulations, your employees will be more likely to take their training seriously and remain safe.
Protecting new workers from workplace injuries is becoming a bigger priority for many employers. Understand the risks to your team, and develop a program designed to give them the knowledge and tools they need to remain safe on the job.
At Columbia Southern University, our occupational safety and health degree programs are taught by industry experts, and our bachelor’s and master’s degree programs are recognized by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals as Graduate Safety Practitioner® Qualified Academic Programs.
To learn more about online degree programs that will help you meet the safety needs of today’s workplace, visit our website or call 877-347-6050.