The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports almost a third of nonfatal injuries in the workplace involve employees who have been on the job for less than a year, according to Safety+Health magazine. These injuries often are serious, with nearly 25% resulting in more than a month of lost time.
The first 90 days reportedly are especially dangerous for new hires because they may lack some of the knowledge needed to avoid getting injured on the job site. New hires also may be unfamiliar with risk assessments, less comfortable using personal protective equipment and unsure of who to approach if they have questions about safety issues.
In Safety+Health magazine, Larry Pearlman, senior safety consultant for SafeStart, Belleville, Ontario, offers some steps employers can take to help keep new hires safe.
- Give a green hat and/or vest to visually identify new hires. This invites co-workers to coach, mentor and intervene and can help accelerate learning while keeping new employees safe.
- New hires must receive a safety orientation on the first day. Safety professionals should take time to discuss the practical realities of the job site with new workers.
- Ask more experienced employees to share their insights. They can meet with new hires to set expectations, share personal stories and emphasize the need to build a strong safety culture.
- Be sure it is clear to new workers how stop-work authority can be exercised, including who they should talk to and how they can raise safety concerns. They need to know they can stop work without fear of reprisal.
- Ensure team leaders connect and engage with new hires, who need to be familiar with the names of their leaders. Leaders should make sure new hires know their well-being is valued.