Protecting worker safety should be a top priority, and if you’re an experienced manager or business owner, you understand how small investments in worker protection can pay off in big ways. Even something as simple as a handrail installation can let employees know that you care about their well- being, and can yield big increases in worker loyalty, commitment, productivity, and retention, not to mention countless savings on injury claims and expensive lawsuits.
But while you value the safety of your entire workforce, keep in mind that new recruits and inexperienced employees represent your most vulnerable population. These are the workers who are most prone to mistakes, misunderstandings, and avoidable mishaps. So these workers require closer managerial attention and stronger protections. Keep these tips in mind.
Even if your newer employees know exactly what they’re doing and they’ve performed a certain operation a thousand times during their careers, don’t let them work alone immediately after they’re hired. There may be dangerous aspects of the job that seasoned employees and managers take for granted, and your newer employees may not be prepared to handle these dangers without the presence of watchful eyes. Threats can include improper use of protective gear, neglecting standard cleaning and sanitization methods, and entering dangerous or injury-prone areas without recognizing threats (like overhead equipment, sudden temperature changes, or unexpected loud noises).
Use the Buddy System
Even if they don’t need direct training or managerial supervision, pair new employees with seasoned workers during every task they face throughout the day. Short-term partnerships can provide new employees with protection and mentoring, and current employees with opportunities to practice their leadership and training skills.
Don’t Just Hand Them a Manual
Of course new hires will require a printed (and online accessible) version of an employee handbook, a copy of all company policies that are relevant to their job description. This manual can and should include safety information that can protect new employees from dangerous equipment and workplace areas. But don’t assume that every piece of information in the handbook or manual will be read and memorized. Take responsibility for delivering this information in other formats, especially if it deals directly with issues related to safety. “Didn’t you read the manual?” isn’t a helpful question after a new employee has accidentally placed himself/herself or others in danger.
Make Use of All Teachable Moments
If a new employee makes a small mistake, don’t just forgive and ignore the error assuming that the employee meant well or didn’t know any better. The first few weeks on the job are critical in terms of early training and initiation, and now is the time to point out errors and correct them before they become dangerous habits.
For more on how to protect new workers (and protect others from their potential mistakes), reach out to the hiring, staffing and training experts at Lift Temp.