Protecting New Workers

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.

Supervision Matters

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.

How to Dress for a Skilled Trade Interview

Here at Lift Temp, we often hear similar questions from job seekers and candidates for both professional and skilled trade positions. Candidates often turn to our experts for resume support, leads, and – of course – questions about the interview process. Here’s one we hear almost every day:

“I’ve been invited to interview for a skilled trade position (carpentry, metalwork, HVAC, auto repair, etc), and I have no idea what to wear. Should I dress formally? Or ready for work? A three-piece suit seems out of place, but it also feels wrong to wear jeans to a job interview. Help!”

Of course the answer will vary slightly according to the position level, industry, and workplace culture, but here are a few general rules that can keep skilled trade candidates on track.

Stay Tour Ready

Chances are, you won’t be asked to step onto the shop floor and perform dirty or potentially dangerous tasks as part of the interview process, so you don’t need to prepare for a day on the job. But there’s a strong chance you may be taken on a tour of the shop floor, garage, factory, or work area. Be prepared to shake hands with your future co-workers, meet your future manager, and walk through areas in which work-related activity may be taking place.

Neatness Above All

As you choose clothes that seem appropriate for a first impression and safe for a tour of the work area, reject all shirts, trousers, and shoes that are worn or stained. Your clothes should look neat enough to pass for brand new. If your very best attire (including shoes) just can’t make the cut, have it professionally cleaned.

Jeans, Skirt, or Dress Pants

Below the waist, wear neutral colors with modest coverage. No shorts, no skirts that rise above the knee, no sweats, and no distressed jeans. Neat, pressed khaki pants or slacks are a perfectly fine choice for both women and men.

Above the Belt

Above the waist, choose a blouse or pressed button-down shirt with long sleeves. Suit jackets and blazers are perfectly acceptable for the interview setting, but are by no means required. Ties are also perfectly acceptable, but you won’t hurt your chances if you leave the tie at home. Women can’t usually go wrong with cardigans or shrugs that feel professional, neat, and new.

Above all, create an impression that suggests cleanliness, order, good repair, and attention to detail. Take the same pride in your appearance that you intend to take in your work. Before you step out the door, take a final look at yourself in a full-length mirror and make sure you’ve taken care of every loose thread, tiny stain, and missing button. Contact the experts at Lift Temp for additional help and job search tips.

The Impact of Turnover on Manufacturing Costs

Are your turnover rates affecting your bottom line more than you realize? Before you dismiss turnover as a standard cost of business or a natural and unavoidable aspect of the manufacturing industry, think twice. A few small changes to your workplace or your management style can keep employees on the team for longer tenures, and turning short term relationships into long-term partnerships can dramatically cut costs and bolster your stability. Here’s how.

Longer Tenures Mean Higher Levels of Institutional Knowledge

If you look around your manufacturing workplace and see mostly new faces, you probably see enthusiasm, high energy levels, a general sense of ambition, and an eagerness to please and impress managers and supervisors. But here’s what you don’t see: ingrained positive habits, an in-depth understanding of company goals, respect for the status quo, lower error rates, and a willingness to teach and lead as well as learn and follow. To move from the first to the second, you’ll need to raise the average tenure on your shop floor.

Longer Tenures Boost Your Reputation

If your employees enjoy working here and are happy to stay, this positivity will have a ripple effect that extends beyond the walls of the company. Your brand and your reputation will extend to friends, family, and wide social and professional networks. As a result, you’ll hear from more and better applicants when you post an open position.

Short Tenures Mean High Risk and Training Investments

If an employee comes on board and stays for less than one calendar year, you may see this as a benefit – especially if the employee seems mistake-prone or has a minor attitude problem. But look closer. If the hiring cost for the position approaches or exceeds the employee’s annual salary, this practice isn’t sustainable. Consider coaching and working with an imperfect employee instead of letting them walk out the door … taking your training investment with them.

Minor Changes Improve Employee Satisfaction

A few small changes that make your workplace feel safer, cleaner, more respectful, or more positive can encourage burned-out or ambitious employees to stay, instead of seeking work elsewhere. When you compare the cost of these improvements with the cost of hiring and staffing during the same year, the difference may surprise you. Even if these improvements include regular salary increases or expanded benefits, the numbers are likely to work in your favor.

For more information on how to improve your workplace, boost your reputation, improve your management style and reduce your overall turnover, contact the expert staffing pros at Lift Temp.

Onboarding New Manufacturing Employees

Start your relationship with your new manufacturing employee on the right foot, and make a great impression beginning on their first day. You already know that they’ll be doing the same for you; they’ll be bringing their A-game and stepping into the workplace with the best possible attitude and intentions…So make sure you respond in kind. Demonstrate respect for both the new employee and the position they’re about to take over.

Have Their Workspace and Paperwork Prepared

When your employee arrives at the site, make sure your HR team and their supervisors are ready. Don’t leave themstanding idly for an hour while they wait for a formal welcome and sign-in procedure. Make sure HR, payroll, IT, and of course their own manger all know when they will arrive. Ideally, they should be shown to their work area and be ready to start learning and contributing within a just a few minutes.

Provide Trainers with Clear Instructions

Your new employee may need to be paired with mentors, supervisors, or guides who can walk them through the process and provide a tour of the facility in which they’ll be working. These trainers should know exactly who they are, and they should be well prepared for this task. Don’t just pull someone randomly away from his or her workstation and ask this person to take on the task at the last minute. In most workplaces, this is a very important job with a lasting impact on the new employee’s performance and tenure. Make sure your trainers are carefully chosen and ready for this responsibility.

Provide Accommodations Immediately

If the new employee will require specific data access, passwords, specialized tools, or protective gear in the proper size, take care of this right away. Again, don’t leave the employee performing at half-capacity for hours or days while these basic requirements are being taken care of.

Make the Employee Feel Welcome

The team that will be working with your new employee should know about her arrival well in advance. They should already know their name and role and they should be prepared to welcome them warmly. Encourage your team to provide heartfelt greetings and go the extra mile to speed the acclimation process and help the new employee fit in.

Provide Clear Resources

Most new manufacturing employees will have plenty of questions about their tasks and responsibilities within their first few days and weeks on the job. Make sure your new employee knows exactly where to turn when this happens.

For more on how to train and acclimate new workers on your manufacturing team, reach out to the management experts at Lift Temp.

Overcoming Your Greatest Weakness

Every working person in the world excels in some areas and struggles in others. While some of us are natural experts at organizing spreadsheets, others demonstrate impressive talent with writing, design, budget management, making sense of complex data, remembering names and faces, or motivating teams. When we’re asked (often in an interview setting) to list and describe our greatest strengths, most of us can answer quickly and accurately.

But the same rule doesn’t usually apply when we’re asked to list and describe our greatest weaknesses. These are the skill sets that we’re not so proud of, the areas in which we seem to struggle up the ladder one painful inch at a time, gaining very little reward for a disproportionate level of study and practice. Most of us don’t think much about these areas, and when these tasks need to be addressed, we’d rather hand the responsibility off to almost anyone else in the room. But if you’ve been living a state of avoidance regarding these sore points, now may be a great time to turn the tables and face them head on. Here are a few moves that can help.

Determine what they are.

Be honest with yourself. As you move through an average working day, which tasks do you dislike the most and which do you hand off whenever you have an opportunity? Which ones would you rather avoid for the rest of your life? Look closely; as a common ego defense mechanism, you may tend to casually undermine and dismiss these tasks in order to convince yourself that they aren’t important. But they are. Pretending otherwise won’t help you grow.

Face the facts.

If you’ve placed “typing” on your list, or “accepting criticism” or “interacting with customers”, it’s time to focus your full attention on this task for at least ten minutes each day. Start by reading a few articles or seeking advice from someone close to you who excels at this task. Turn your attention toward experts, mentors, and potential role models. Watch them work and listen closely to any guidance they have to offer.

Put your lessons into action.

When you’re ready, start taking the things you’ve learned and applying them to real-world situations. If you dread public speaking, now is the time to start volunteering for easy speaking opportunities. If you dread giving negative feedback to your direct reports, start offering gentle corrections and constructive criticism.

Set goals.

Determine how far you’d like to take your skill set within one calendar year. When it comes to this area of knowledge or skill, where will you be and what will you be doing this time next summer? Break your larger goal down into smaller goals that you can reach each month, and then each week.

For more on how to tackle and overcome your skill deficits, consult the career management professionals at Lift Temp.

Daily Checks for Forklift Operators

At the beginning of a shift, or just prior to use, forklift operators should take a few minutes to carefully inspect the lift truck they’re about to control. These inspections should happen every single day, regardless of how often the lifting equipment is used of the results of previous inspections. Careful inspection saves lives, prevents injury, and protects equipment and inventory from expensive damage.

As these checks are conducted, users and operators should hold an actual physical list of each inspection item, and should check each item off as they move down the list from top to bottom. Relying on mental lists and checks won’t be enough, no matter experienced operators may be or how familiar they are with their equipment. Every pre-flight check should involve two distinct elements: a visual pre-check and an operational pre-check.

Visual Pre-Check

Here are some of the items that should be included in the visual examination of lifting equipment prior to use:

  • Is the lift truck clean and in generally good condition?
  • Are floor and overhead areas free and clear of obstructions and conditions that could cause an accident?
  • Is there an accessible fire extinguisher in the lift truck that’s charged and functional?

For LPG, gas, and diesel forklifts: Check engine oil levels, check radiator fluid levels, and check fuel levels.

For battery powered forklifts: Check battery for full charge, check plug connections for tightness, wear, and dirt, check for exposed wires, make sure vent caps are unclogged, brackets are secure, and electrolyte levels are adequate.

Make sure all guards, chains, and hydraulic hose reels are tight, secure, present and in good repair.

Check wheels and tires for damage, wear, and proper air pressure.

Make sure forks and anchor pins are straight, unbent and unworn, not cracked and not chipped.

Check hoses to make sure they’re securely fastened, unbent and unworn.

Check seatbelts and overhead guard for damage and flaws.

Test horn for functional and volume.

Pre-Operations Check

These items should be tested and checked before an operator takes control of a lift truck.

  • Test all brakes, including the foot brake, the parking brake, and the deadman seat brake that stops the vehicle when the operator stands up.
  • Check the clutch and gearshift for smooth transitions.
  • Check lift and tilt mechanisms for smooth operation.
  • Check all lights including headlights and traffic signals.
  • Listen for unusual sounds and check for fluid leaks.

For more on how to properly inspect and maintain lift truck fleets and other lifting equipment, reach out to the materials handling experts at Lift Temp.

Distraction in the Workplace: An Avoidable Risk

When most people talk about workplace safety and workplace hazards, they’re referring to environmental, structural, and traffic issues. These might include an absent safety railing on a high ledge, perilously hot ambient temperatures, inadequate noise protection, or poorly maintained machinery. With proper training, most managers and HR pros recognize a standard workplace hazard when they see one (or feel or hear it).

But there’s one workplace problem that doesn’t get as much attention, and is just as likely to cause an accident or injury: distraction. As the saying goes, distracted drivers are as dangerous as inebriated drivers, and the same rule applies to workers. What are you doing to protect your employees from this often preventable hazard? Keep these tips in mind.

Solicit feedback from your teams.

The best way to find out more about the dangers faced by your workers is to simply ask them. Encourage honesty by distributing anonymous surveys and/or maintaining an open door policy so employees can report any problem at any time without fear of judgement or criticism. If any employee in your workplace identifies a potentially dangerous distraction—anything from an overly-bright light fixture to a constantly running TV screen—reward the employee for bringing it to your attention.

Pay close attention to teams who rely on concentration and focus.

If some of your employees are operating potentially dangerous, high speed, or precision machinery, keep a close eye on these employees especially. Enforce regular break periods and rest periods. Deliberately remove anything from the ambient environment that may break their concentration even momentarily. Consider every form of visual and auditory stimulation that comes their way; even a bad smell can derail focus for a crucial second. Reduce these problems at the source.

Coworkers can be the biggest distraction of all.

If your employees work in teams or partner pairs, make sure these pairs are stable and functional. If they aren’t, separate mismatches quickly and rotate pairings on a regular basis. Don’t allow coworkers to threaten each other’s safety, even with well-intended but poorly timed conversation. Provide privacy barriers and sound barriers for work stations that benefit from structural boundaries.

Take all complaints seriously.

Some workers are distracted by sounds and intrusions that don’t bother others. But if an employee complains about a squeaking fan, or flapping tarp, a chatty coworker, a divided responsibility, or an occasional blast of cold air across his or her workstation, don’t dismiss the concern. Address the problem in any way you can; Either eliminate the distraction or shift the employee to another area where the distraction won’t cause an accident.

For more on how to keep your workers safe from all hazards, including innocent distractions, contact the staffing and management experts at Lift Temp.

Creating a 30-60-90 Day Plan for a Successful New Job

You just stepped into your first permanent manufacturing job…Congratulations! But in order to make sure this job stays “permanent” and you and your employer launch into a mutually beneficial experience, you’ll need to stay on your toes. Start by creating a clear plan for success, a road map that will guide you through the next 30, 60, and 90 days. By that time, if all goes well, the novel parts of the job will start to feel routine and natural. With any luck, you may feel confident enough to give a helping hand to new employees who will be standing where you are now.

Your First 30 Days

Start by making a strong impression during your first day, and build on that foundation during your first week. Make it clear that you’re happy to be here, excited to start working, and eager to identify your role and give this job your best shot. Make an effort to learn and remember the names of everyone you meet. Keep your conversations and interactions positive. If you feel like you may not remember everything you learn, keep a notepad close and take notes. Ask plenty of questions and try not to ask the same ones twice. By the end of one month, you’ll have won over a few friends and supporters, and learned the basics of the job.

The First 60 Days

Within 60 days, you should be finding a sustainable rhythm and brining your daily productivity rate (however that rate is measured) up to a level on par with the average in your industry. You should also be making a note of your error rates. Now is the time to start tackling those rates and bringing those numbers down. You’ll still be asking plenty of questions, of course, but your questions should be rising to the next level and should be focused on specific aspects of this operation and your contributions.

The First 90 Days

By the time you’ve been on the job for three months, you should be ready to iron out aspects of your daily work that seem uncomfortable or difficult for you. What’s the most challenging part of your day? By this stage, you should be able to answer that question quickly, and your answer should show where your focus lies at this point. Get these rough spots smoothed out, and as you do so, you’ll move closer to a degree of expertise which will earn the respect of your employer and prepare you for the next level of responsibility.

For more on how to step into your new manufacturing job and hit the ground running, contact the expert staffing team at Lift Temp.

Prevent the Hazards of Manual Materials Handling by Using Forklifts

The term “manual materials handling”, or MMH, usually referrers to the handling, lifting, and moving of inanimate objects in the workplace without the benefit of mechanical assistance. Some form of manual materials handling takes place in almost every job, but employees who work in factories, warehouses and distribution centers handle objects without support more often than employees in other industries. And as it happens, research shows that MMH is the most common source of work-related lower back pain and occupational fatigue. In fact, three out of four Canadian workers who lift and move objects on a regular basis will suffer from back pain or back injury at least once.

Preventing MMH Injuries
There are no demographics that indicate a greater risk for MHH injury. Both genders and all ages are equally susceptible to strain, fatigue and back pain. Women and men are not statistically variant in their ability to lift and move objects, and while workers over the age of 45 may lose physical strength, their bodies typically adapt by applying years of ingrained experience to the lifting process. In fact, younger workers suffer a higher number of back injuries while lifting loads of the same weight and size. So preventing MMH hazards should not excuse gender and age discrimination.

Instead, preventing MMH injures should involve a careful evaluation of required tasks and the provision of tools, protective gear, and safe lifting equipment. For smaller tasks, a supportive belt can prevent hernia and muscle strain. Proper safety training provided by qualified experts can also reduce lifting injuries. But most important: Workers should be provided with devices that offer the leverage and lifting support they need.

The Benefit of Forklifts
Forklifts and mechanized lifting equipment, like overhead cranes, may require an initial outlay of capital. But this cost should be considered an investment in worker safety and productivity. Forklifts now include advanced ergonomic and safety features, and the fuel efficiency of both gas and battery powered lifting equipment has increased in recent years. With sophisticated mast-stability features and a growing ratio of lifting power to size and maneuverability, forklifts are becoming a necessary feature of almost any materials-handling workplace.

Versatile designs are now available, including narrow-aisle forklift models and a range of lifting extensions and attachments. Now may be the perfect time to examine the costs and benefits of various forklift models that may protect your employees and meet the unique needs of your workplace.

For more information on lifting equipment and injury prevention, reach out to the materials handling staffing experts at Lift Temp.

The Basic Responsibilities of OH&S Legislation

Across all the jurisdictions and provinces of Canada, the language and broader points of Occupational Health and Safety legislation remain similar. The basic responsibilities of employees, employers, and supervisors are fairly consistent across most workplaces, though the finer points of the legislation and methods of enforcement may vary slightly from one region to the next.

Basic Employer Responsibilities

Supervisors and employees will need to read, process, and apply the information relevant to their own aspects of the law, and employees will likewise need to address other areas of responsibility. Here are some of the key points that will require employer attention.

A joint health and safety committee

Employers will need to establish and maintain a committee to address issues relevant to safety and injury prevention in the workplace, or otherwise compel employees to form and maintain a committee or elect a representative to handle this task.

Take precautions to ensure a safe workplace

Since only employers have the ability and authority to change the nature of the workplace, this task will fall under the employer umbrella of responsibility. This will include, among other examples, installing safety railings, preventing harmful substances from intruding into workspaces, and preventing shop floor accidents, machinery malfunctions, and traffic collisions.

Provide complete and adequate safety training

It will be the responsibility of the employer to provide and pay for safety training sessions and make sure all employees have completed the sessions and understand the content. These sessions will train employees to handle workplace safety emergencies and also use, handle and dispose of hazardous materials properly.

Supply protective equipment

Employers will need to provide all employees with personal safety equipment and protective gear that will be well maintained, inspected, and in good repair. This will include items like hard hats, gloves and protection from heat, cold, and hazardous materials.

Reporting

Employers will report all injuries, accidents and relevant safety incidents the proper department of the Occupational Health and Safety office. The reporting process must be timely, accurate and complete.

Setting standards

Employers will set and maintain high safety standards by appointing a supervisor who will control specific workplace metrics relevant to safety.

For more on how the responsibilities of OH&S legislation will be distributed and enforced, reach out to the workplace safety and staffing experts at Lift Temp.