Employers Resource

Why New Hire Safety Orientation Programs are Important

As the owner of a small warehouse, Fred constantly struggles to maintain sufficient staff to meet the demands of his customers.  It seemed as though Fred was always running an ad trying to find qualified people.  Recently, Aaron answered Fred’s latest ad and came in to apply for a job.  The interview went well and Fred offered Aaron the position on the spot.

Sounds like a successful hire – doesn’t it?  Unfortunately, offer and acceptance of a position with your company is just the tip of the iceberg in creating a valuable, long-term employment situation. Next, you need to be prepared for a thorough new hire safety orientation program.

Did you know that approximately 40% of all workplace injuries occur to employees who have been on the job less than one year?  One of every eight workplace injuries occurs to employees on their FIRST DAY on the job.  These numbers can be significantly reduced by developing and implementing a New Hire Safety Orientation Program. When applied consistently with EVERY new hire, the program can help ensure that newly hired employees are armed with the knowledge necessary to work safely in your business.

According to Business and Legal Reports, there are seven reasons why new hires are injured early-on in their employment:

  1. Employers often assume that new employees know much more than they really do about what the job entails.  Some employers consider that new hire safety involves more “common sense” than training.
  2. New employees are often afraid to ask questions of their supervisors.  Most new hires strive to make a good first impression.  When faced with a new task, newly hired employees often fail to ask the questions necessary to perform the task safely.
  3. The new workplace environment is foreign to them – they aren’t familiar with the inherent hazards of the operation nor do they know what to do when an emergency arises.
  4. Training given to new hires often focuses on what to do to accomplish the task at hand while omitting specific training on the hazards of the job.
  5. New employees are unfamiliar with hazardous substances used in their workplace.
  6. New employees often do not thoroughly understand the importance of using the required Personal Protective Equipment necessary to work safely.  This situation is heightened when the company fails to enforce safety rules regarding PPE – especially with seasoned employees.
  7. The workplace does not send a clear message to new hires that safety is an important part of the job.


Why You Should Have a New Hire Safety Orientation Program

A well-planned and executed New Hire Safety Orientation Program will address all seven of the items stated above. The key however is to ensure that there is sufficient time for the program to be implemented with every newly hired employee.  Often, the need for “warm bodies” will cause employers to short cut on orientation – and a new-hire injury is often the result.

Many companies build into the hiring process a day, week or longer to make sure the new hire is properly trained to be safe on the job BEFORE he actually begins work.  This means that the employer must pay the new worker to be trained.  While the expense of doing so may seem daunting, the benefit of having a safe worker far exceeds the cost of the training time. The average medical-only claim costs in excess of $1,000.00. Salary for a day or two of training and orientation is indeed a small price to pay.

Implementing a New Hire Safety Orientation Program

To ensure that the New Hire Safety Orientation program is applied to new workers consistently, use a checklist.  Create a list of teaching points that must be covered with new hires. Have the new employee carry the list with him throughout the orientation process.  Every supervisor, manager, or lead person who has orientation responsibility for items on the list should initial beside each item that they cover with the new hire.  Once the list is complete, the employee should be ready to report for duty.

Be sure that the checklist includes required OSHA training topics, general information regarding work hours, break time, lunches etc.  The list should also cover training on emergency exit routes, use of fire extinguishers, calling 9-1-1 and employee responsibilities in an emergency.  At each step in the process, the manager or supervisor presenting the material should ensure that the new employee “gets it” and has a good understanding of what is expected of him in each item on the checklist.

Finally, ENFORCE THE RULES YOU HAVE CREATED.  There is nothing worse than having safety rules, policies, and procedures that are not followed by the entire workforce. Everyone from the lowest position to the highest in your organization should be held accountable for following all safety rules. Violations of safety rules MUST be corrected with the appropriate disciplinary actions taken against the offender.

At Employers Resource, our Safety Team works with our clients to develop and implement a New Hire Safety Orientation program designed to lessen the potential for new hire injuries.  Why not give us a call today to see how Employers Resource can reduce the number and severity of workplace injuries in your business.

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