New employees are at greater risk than seasoned employees, because they lack familiarity with the workplace, processes, chemicals, hazards, and safety practices. To prevent loss, your safety orientation or induction programme has to be efficient, memorable, and packed with relevant information.
Too often, organisational induction training is considered a necessary evil. It is not given sufficient attention by some employers, who see the time that employees spend in orientation as lost production, rather than an investment in health, safety and loss prevention.
You are probably aware that people are easily bored or distracted during tedious ‘talking heads’ sessions, but when induction is done correctly, everybody wins. Health and safety induction is an excellent way to get buy-in from new employees, to shape their safety attitudes, and to bring them up to speed with health and safety policies, programs and the culture at their new employer.
The most important aspect of orientation is the information that you share with the new people. Most new employees are young and lack the general industrial knowledge and experience necessary to ‘jump in’ and work safely without solid induction and some coaching.
Since you do not know what they do not know, and what they do not know could hurt them and the organisation, make sure your H&S induction starts on day one and covers all the basics, including:
- general hazards and risks on the site
- specific hazards involved in each task the employee may perform
- H&S policies and procedures , including incident prevention strategies and injury reporting procedures
- location of emergency equipment like fire extinguishers, eyewash stations, and first aid supplies
- smoking regulations and designated smoking areas
- incident response drills
- emergency evacuation procedures, routes, and security systems
- how to report emergencies, accidents, and near misses
- selection, use, and care of personal protective equipment
- housekeeping practices
- safe use of tools and equipment
- safe lifting techniques and materials handling
- hazardous materials, and the use of material safety data sheets.
Some companies introduce employees who have been injured to explain what happened to them and the effect of injuries on themselves and their families. First hand accounts of incidents capture new workers’ attention like few other media could.
Investing in employee wellness makes a great deal of sense for safety-minded organisations that care about their workers, profitability, and sustainability. Make safety induction meaningful, memorable, as short as possible, and repeat it after holidays or project assignments.