Set New Employees Up for Success with Safety Orientation

The simple act of arriving for the first day of a new job is bundled with all kinds of risk – not the least of which includes the safety issues that come with navigating a new physical environment with unfamiliar work processes.

In order to protect your employees and your small business, it’s a good idea to orient all new employees to safety in your workplace before they touch a cooking pot or lift a serving tray. Delaying safety orientation until the next monthly safety meeting may be too late.  In B.C., 10 per cent of injuries to young workers happen in their first week on the job, with another 10 per cent in the next three weeks.

But this isn’t just about young workers.  It’s makes good sense, and good business, to include safety orientation training even for mature new employees who have some previous experience.  Remember, they’re unfamiliar with your unique operation and, worse, may have unsafe work habits that need to be unlearned.

So for all new workers, put safety orientation at the top of the agenda for the first day on the job. Here’s a brief rundown of key points to cover.

Personal Responsibilities

Be sure to review who’s responsible for what:

  • Employees should know and follow safety requirements for their jobs, should ask for training if they lack knowledge, should use provided personal protective equipment, and should make suggestions for better safety.
  • Supervisors should train employees in safe procedures, should see that work is done safely, and should enforce safety practices and correct unsafe behaviour and conditions.
  • Owners are required to provide a safe and healthy workplace.  They can do this by ensuring that workers are trained, maintaining a basic safety program, and correcting potentially hazardous situations when informed of them.

Workplace Hazards

Review the basics of workplace hazarads specific to your business:

  • Discuss and point out your operation’s potential hazards, such as working with deep fat fryers and working near high-traffic areas.
  • Describe past accidents and near misses, how they might have been avoided and what has been done to keep them from happening again.
  • Explain what workers should do if they see a hazard or unsafe condition.
  • Explain where to get first aid and who to report injuries to.

Safe Procedures

Tell workers about the tasks in their jobs that have specific safe work procedures that must be followed, and then provide thorough training in those procedures. Put the procedures in writing so that employees can review them at a later date.

More Information

These points and more useful information can be found in WorkSafeBC’s 3 Steps to Effective Worker Education and Training publication, which includes a sample orientation checklist that you can adapt to the needs of your workplace.