When you hire new workers, one of the first things they need to learn is to work safely. Their safety is important to you— and to them. A recent study from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago found more than 8 out of 10 workers say that their safety on the job is their top concern – ahead of such issues as overtime pay, paid sick days, family and maternity leave, minimum wage, and the right to join a union.

However, new employee orientation often focuses on paperwork and other details, rather than the job hazards new workers will face on a daily basis. This approach leaves the "newbies" vulnerable to injury and put their co-workers at the mercy of people who don't know the hazards of their jobs or the precautions required for safe performance.

The solution -- Make sure that your safety onboarding program:

  • Teaches safety basics
  • Introduces new workers to safety
  • Focuses on accident prevention

Companies with a safety or HR manager should have him or her conduct the classroom part of orientation/training, prepare orientation materials (handouts, forms, checklists, etc.), conduct the Day 1 safety basics orientation, and maintain all documentation about the employee's orientation. The facility supervisor(s) can do the on-the-job training and observation (with the help of experienced employees).

If you don't have a safety manager or trainer-qualified HR manager, the company safety committee, HR manager, and department supervisor can share responsibility for new employee safety orientation. The safety committee and HR manager should put together the orientation materials, conduct the Day 1 orientation, and keep the orientation records. The department where employees will work can conduct the hands-on training.

To review, evaluate, and update onboard programs, be sure to review accident and near-miss reports. An evaluation of illness and injury logs can also serve as a catalyst for adjustments to safety orientation and training programs.

If you hire workers from a temp agency, both the temp agency and you are responsible for documenting that the employees were trained to understand and avoid all potential hazards at the your work site. This means that you need to run a safety orientation for temps that familiarizes them with the particular hazards of your workplace and the specific procedures you use to protect employees from those hazards.

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