According to OSHA, 40% of injured employees have been on the job less than a year. Farmers Insurance Group says that more than half of new workers injured were employed for less than a month, and 1 of every 8 injuries occurred on the first day of work.
If you agree that these statistics are unacceptable, then you must also agree that safety orientation is one of the first and best opportunities for you to communicate your commitment to employee protection and get employees thinking about safety first from Day 1. Safety orientation is something you want to plan carefully and execute effectively. Decide what messages you want new employees to take away. Then build content accordingly. Recommended topics include:
- Company safety policies and work rules
- General hazards in the work area
- Specific hazards involved in each task the employee performs
- Hazards associated with other areas of the facility
- Safe work practices and procedures
- Location of emergency equipment (fire extinguishers, eyewash stations, first-aid supplies, etc.)
- Smoking regulations
- Emergency evacuation procedures and routes
- Who to talk to regarding safety concerns and questions
- Steps to take in case of an accident or near miss
- Reporting procedures
- Selection, use, and care of PPE
- Safe use of tools and equipment
- Safe lifting techniques and material handling procedures
- Proper handling, use, and storage of hazardous materials and location of SDSs
Some employers use a safety orientation checklist to ensure that all relevant topics have been covered. The checklist should be signed by participating employees and maintained in personnel files. Other companies like to be up front with new hires about the cost associated with various types of accidents. Still others bring in an employee who sustained an injury to talk about what happened and its effect on the worker and his or her family.
Whichever strategies you employ, be sure to make periodic “knowledge checks” during safety orientation to assure new workers are getting the messages you want to communicate and understanding and assimilating the information they are being provided with.