The Necessity of Safety Orientations During New Employee Onboarding
October 17, 2023
It is essential for businesses in all industries to take steps to make the workplace a safe environment. Conducting safety orientations during onboarding for new employees can help accomplish this and prevent injuries by providing valuable information and resources. According to research, more than one-third of occupational injuries happened to workers who had been on the job for less than one year. There are several reasons why this may be the case, including:
- Lack of experience and knowledge—New employees may not have adequate experience or knowledge to complete the tasks in their new role safely. Additionally, new workers may come from companies that did not prioritize safety or provide resources to them to learn how to identify and mitigate potential workplace hazards.
- Inadequate prior training—Employers may falsely assume that new workers have had sufficient previous safety training to address industry hazards or that certain safety aspects of the job are “common sense” and fail to address these knowledge gaps.
- Unfamiliar environment—A new job comes with a new environment and related hazards. For example, new employees may not know how to handle dangerous materials or how to properly use personal protective equipment. They also may not know where to report safety concerns or how to respond to workplace accidents or emergencies.
- Desire to make a good first impression—New workers may be eager to make their new employer happy, so they may take on more tasks or tasks that are beyond their expertise. They may also be hesitant to ask questions or seek guidance for fear of appearing that they lack knowledge.
- Lack of supervision—New workers may not receive the same amount of oversight since they have lower levels of responsibility.
Proper safety orientations during new employee onboarding can help address these issues and provide several key benefits, including the following:
- Improved safety—Comprehensive safety orientation can help prevent injuries to new employees. It can also bolster their safety awareness and provide them with vital safety knowledge and resources.
- Reduced expenses and increased compliance—Fewer injuries mean fewer workers’ compensation claims and related expenses and fewer work days missed. Additionally, holding safety trainings can help businesses comply with various state, local and federal regulations and avoid fines and penalties.
- Improved morale and retention—Safety education during onboarding can demonstrate employers care about workers’ well-being. This can lead to improved morale, which can increase productivity and retention.
Although the specifics of orientations may vary, there are certain aspects that can make them effective across industries and positions. This includes ensuring the information is relevant, including helpful resources (e.g., safety manuals, injury reporting protocols, return-to-work processes, incident response measures and OSHA content) and keeping the presentation engaging (e.g., using visuals and hands-on training). Following up and gauging comprehension of the information is also essential. By holding effective safety orientations during onboarding, businesses can demonstrate their commitment to safety and prevent injuries.
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