Not only is Health and Safety induction a legal requirement, but it may be your first and best chance to influence employee attitudes.
Some say that a new employee is at considerably greater risk of injury than more seasoned workers.
- New employees often have insufficient skills or knowledge about the job.
- Even if they are skilled and experienced, they don’t know their way around the workplace, its particular hazards, or your specific safety practices.
- New workers may be less likely to ask questions or express safety concerns.
- They may be young, which means that in addition to lacking skills and knowledge, they may also be less aware of hazards and more inclined to take risks.
- Because of the above, it is safe to say that employees are most likely to be injured during their first few months on the job than at any other time during their employment. That’s why your Health and Safety Induction program has to be efficient, hard-hitting, and packed with suitable information.
OHS induction can be an investment.
I know that in many organisations, the Health & Safety induction is considered a necessary evil. It’s not given sufficient attention by employers, who see the time employees spend at it as lost production. What it really is, is an investment in Health & Safety and protection.
For their part, workers are frequently bored and distracted during tedious “talking head” sessions. Even if they’re pleased to have paid time off from work, that still doesn’t guarantee they’re going to pay attention.
But when induction is done right, everybody gains. Induction is an excellent way to get new employees on board, to influence their attitudes towards Health and Safety and to bring them up to speed on your policies and OHS program.
It’s also your first official opportunity to educate them about your company, expectations, and the importance of Health and Safety in the workplace. This is the time when you set the tone, letting employees know you care about them and that you’ve got rules and procedures in place to keep them safe.
Important Health and Safety information to cover.
The most important aspect of orientation is the informational content. New employees require training as soon as possible.
Make sure your induction program covers at least these minimum Health and Safety orientation requirements:
- General site hazards
- Specific hazards involved in each task the employee may perform
- Safety policies and work procedures, including accident prevention strategies and injury and hazard reporting procedures
- Location of emergency equipment like fire extinguishers, eyewash stations, and first-aid supplies
- Smoking regulations and designated smoking areas if you have them
- Steps to take following an accident or injury
- Proper reporting of emergencies, accidents, and near-misses
- Selection, use, and care of PPE
- Emergency evacuation procedures and routes and security systems
- Safe housekeeping rules
- Safe use of tools and equipment
- Safe-lifting techniques and material-handling procedures
- Hazardous materials and substances on your site and the location of material safety data sheets (MSDS’s)
Apply emphasis where needed
If possible, you can employ a little drama to increase the effectiveness of your OHS induction program by providing an employee who has been injured to explain what happened and the effect of the injury on the employee and his or her family. Such a first-hand account of an incident and its aftermath can capture new workers’ attention like little else and orient their attitudes toward safe behaviour.
Whatever methods you choose to orient new employees to your workplace OHS programs and policies, make sure they do the job well.
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