Question: One of our new hires suffered a serious injury to his hand at work. He was trained in the right procedure, didn’t follow it, and got injured as a result. What can we do differently? We’re really frustrated by the frequency of on-the-job injuries among our new hires.
Answer: Safety orientations for new hires are always a good start, but aren’t sufficient alone to ensure that employees stay safe on the job. Safety training for new hires should eventually transition to training through their leads or supervisors for the first 3 to 12 months of employment. New hires learn effectively by observing, participating, and discussing safety protocols within their production environment. It’s important to make time for this activity, even during busy periods. Frontline leaders in the workplace (leads, supervisors, and managers) must mentor new hires and maintain open lines of communication. New hires are unfamiliar with their new work environment, and should be encouraged to feel comfortable communicating safety questions and concerns on a regular basis. Frontline leaders should ensure that new hires aren’t shortcutting safety procedures. In addition, these leaders should provide positive feedback when new hires follow safety procedures they are taught. This approach ultimately fosters better long-term safety compliance among new hires compared to providing negative or corrective feedback alone.
Unfortunately, injuries to new hires continue to occur in manufacturing facilities in the United States with some resulting in severe injuries or death. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently cited a construction equipment manufacturer in Illinois for workplace safety violations related to fall hazards. The company faces $145,027 in penalties after a foundry employee, on his ninth day on the job, fell into an 11-foot-deep pot of molten iron. OSHA issued a citation and determined that the company failed to install safety guards or fall protection and routinely exposed employees to unprotected fall hazards while they worked within 4 feet of containers of heated molten iron.
Vigilant safety professionals are here to help support your safety efforts through proactive management of your safety program. If you need help incorporating safety beyond a new hire’s first day of employment, our New Hire Safety Leadership (NHSL) class is a great tool to help teach frontline leads, supervisors, and managers how to create an environment where safety concerns can be discussed and addressed with new hires. Students meet via Zoom with a safety professional for one hour per week for four weeks. Beyond the class, supervisors must complete one to two hours of direct safety leadership activities with new hires at their facility or worksite.