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 Resources: New Employee Orientation
November 21, 2005
Training New Employees: What Are the Basics?

Get new workers off on the right foot. New employee training provides a great opportunity to get new hires on board with your safety program, shape their safety attitudes, and hone their safety skills and knowledge. During the orientation period, you have the chance to introduce new workers to all the basic safety information:

  • General hazards in the work area
  • Specific hazards involved in each task the employee performs
  • Hazards associated with other areas of the facility
  • Company safety policies and work rules
  • Proper safety practices and procedures to prevent accidents
  • The location of emergency equipment such as fire extinguishers, eyewash stations, first-aid supplies, etc.
  • Smoking regulations and designated smoking areas
  • Emergency evacuation procedures and routes
  • Who to talk to about safety questions, problems, etc.
  • What to do if there is an accident or injury
  • How to report emergencies, accidents, and near misses
  • How to select, use, and care for personal protective equipment
  • Safe housekeeping rules
  • Facility security procedures and systems
  • How to use tools and equipment safely
  • Safe lifting techniques and materials-handling procedures
  • Safe methods for handling, using, or storing hazardous materials and the location of MSDSs

Make sure they stay on track.

Why It Matters...
  • Workers are most at risk of injuries during their first month on the job.
  • The typical job injury can cost your company $4,000 or more.
  • The orientation period is a golden opportunity to get new employees off on the right foot and to develop safe, responsible workers.

During their first few weeks and months on the job, new workers are likely to develop patterns of safety behavior that often last throughout their employment. That's why you need to make good use of this valuable training time:

  • Make expectations clear so that employees realize right from the first day that safety is a number one job priority, that safety performance will be evaluated along with other aspects of job performance, and that those evaluations will affect raises, promotions, and so on.
  • Administer a short pretest to find out what new employees know—and especially what they don't know—about key safety hazards and practices in your organization. Then at the end of the initial orientation period, give a posttest to find out what the new employee has learned and what you need to go over again.
  • Use hands-on demonstrations to make sure that your new employees understand the correct procedures completely and can perform them flawlessly.
  • Provide new workers with a written safety checklist that covers safety rules, procedures, and precautions. Encourage them to post the checklist at the workstations and to refer to it as they work.
  • Buddy up new workers with a seasoned employee who has a good safety record. Buddy them up for at least a couple of weeks, or until you're convinced that it's safe for the new worker to go solo. A buddy can help the new person understand the importance of following the rules taught during orientation. A buddy is there to catch mistakes and correct unsafe behavior.
  • Follow up on initial safety orientation by monitoring performance closely and asking and answering a lot of questions during those first few weeks and months to make sure you've gotten the safety message across.
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