Don’t become part of the statistic — reduce new hire injuries

Today, many employers struggle to maintain sufficient staff and are always on the lookout to find qualified people. This shortage may cause employers to do the minimum for safety orientation requirements, which often results in a new hire injury.

“Employees are expected to follow the safety standards set both by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and those set by their company,” says Doug Newman, senior risk services analyst at CompManagement. “Before employees can follow these standards, they must be aware of them. This requires access to information on standards and the hazards they cover.”

Smart Business spoke with Newman about the importance of new employee training and what should be included.

Why conduct safety training?

No matter the size or nature of your business, the general duty clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act states that each employer shall furnish to each of their employees a place of employment that is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious harm to the employees. It is also an opportunity to influence new employees on the safety culture and safety expectations within the company.

Three key reasons to conduct new employee safety orientation can be found in statistics collected from OSHA, which reports that: 40 percent of workers who are injured have been on the job less than a year; one of every eight workplace injuries occurs to employees on their first day; and new hires are five times as likely to be injured on the job as experienced workers.

When should safety orientation training be conducted?

Safety orientation training should be conducted when the employee is first hired; when the employee is given a new job assignment or transfer; and when introducing new substances, equipment, processes or when a previously unrecognized hazard is identified. An orientation session should be held prior to the time an employee undertakes any work.

A general training session for all employees should be held at the beginning of the year or season, and regular five- to 10-minute safety meetings should be held throughout the year or season. At these meetings, managers and employees should be encouraged to report any potential safety hazards and any accidents or near accidents from the previous week should be discussed. This will keep safety awareness at a high level and help to prevent recurring accidents.

What topics should be covered?

Creating an employee orientation checklist is a good way to ensure all orientation items are completed. The training also needs to be conducted in a manner and language the employee understands.

Recommended topics include:

  • Company safety and health rules and policies — explain all safety and health company policies and ensure they have been acknowledged, signed and dated.
  • Safety training — provide general safety training and training specific to the employee’s position.
  • Emergency procedures — go over emergency procedures and show eye wash stations, first aid kits, fire blankets, exits, fire alarm pull boxes, etc.
  • Illness/injury reporting — review injury, illness and near miss reporting procedures. The policy must be acknowledged, signed and dated.
  • Applicable OSHA programs — review all applicable OSHA compliance programs.
  • Safety team — discuss the purpose of the safety team and introduce the new employees to its members.
  • Contacts — review emergency contacts with new employees.
  • Safety responsibilities — review employee safety expectations and responsibilities.

How should temporary workers be trained?

Host employers and staffing agencies have joint responsibilities to maintain a safe work environment for temporary workers. Host employers should provide temporary workers with safety training that is identical or equivalent to that provided to the host employer’s own employees performing the same or similar work. OSHA may cite both the host employer and staffing agency if violations are found in the training.

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