It does not matter how long you have been on the job or worked for the company, at one time or another everybody has been the “new person”.
The construction industry is a dangerous industry.
Most accidents occur among the least experienced workers, especially new hires.
A new employee is more likely to get hurt in the first year of employment, often within the first few weeks of starting a new job.
Good pre-job safety training can help reduce a new employee’s risk, but it is not always readily available or even adequate.
During the first day on the job, new employees are overloaded with a myriad of information about company rules, regulations, and procedures. It is equally important to emphasize safety and health. Encourage the “new person” to ask questions and not to feel intimidated. This is crucial to encouraging open lines of communication and a safe work environment for all employees.
There is no substitute for on-the-job training.
New employees learn from watching and working with experienced employees.
Seasoned employees must develop a mentor attitude, set good examples, and keep an eye on the new employee.
While safety is everyone’s responsibility, if a new employee encounters a situation where they could be injured, intervention is required. Work place safety practices and standards requires that employees are to be “instructed in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions.”
Before the “new person” starts their first day on the job, it is important to go over the following:
- Communicate with the “new person” in a language that they can understand (if needed, find an interpreter).
- Supervisors, verify that they have filled out all the appropriate paperwork at the office.
- Take some time to verify that the “new person” is aware of the specific safety program for your company and the location of the appropriate safety manuals. Ensure that the new employee becomes familiar with the safety program and answer any questions that they may have.
- Make sure they know who to call for help in case they or one of their coworkers becomes injured.
- Ensure that everyone knows how to get medical attention in the event of an injury.
- Each and every worker is an important part of the total safety effort.
- Go over the emergency action plan for the work place and how to respond in the event of any emergency. Know what to do in case of an emergency.
- Walk the construction project or jobsite and point out various hazards that the new employee should avoid and “look out” for.
- Ensure that the “new person” does not operate any equipment which he/she has not been authorized or trained to operate.
- Focus on the job and safe work practices. Instruct the new employee to be aware that he/she is more accident-prone if not concentrating on the job at hand.
- If one is thinking about personal issues or daydreaming, the proper attention is not being given to safety and that is when an incident could happen
- When anyone becomes familiar and comfortable with their position, there is the tendency to get complacent about safety. Also, the more one understands the operations and processes, the tendency is to take short cuts. Accidents frequently occur when one hurries or takes short cuts.
- Encourage the rest of the crew to “watch out” for the newest addition to your team and to frequently checkup on the new employee.
Finally - The “new person” could be someone just starting out in a trade. They could also be someone that has been in the trade for years, but has recently switched to a new employer, reporting to a new jobsite, or learning a new skill. It is always important to make new employees feel comfortable and welcome at work.
Supervisors and long-term employees have an enhanced responsibility to communicate safe work practices, lead by example, and reinforce safety skills to all new employees.
Let’s look out for and help the “new person” be aware of the safe work practices for his/her specific job tasks.
Let’s be safe out there!