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The importance of training new employees

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Safety and health training should begin as soon as employees are hired, the National Safety Council states, because workers generally will be open to ideas and information about how their new organization operates.

Another reason to begin safety and health training right away? New employees are more likely to experience a work-related incident because of lack of experience, a lack of familiarity with the company’s procedures and an eagerness to work, according to NSC.

The council recommends a number of training topics in the orientation process for new workers. They include safety, health and environmental policies; housekeeping standards; hazard communication; emergency response procedures; care and use of personal protective equipment; incident reporting and investigating procedures; first aid and CPR; ergonomics principles; and fire prevention plans.

Workplaces should develop a formal safety orientation program to “forge a strong link between all employees and the organization’s safety and health policy,” NSC states.

Steps for supervisors

Safety and health training for new employees can be complicated and time-consuming, particularly for busy supervisors. But it’s important to make new employee training a priority. NSC encourages supervisors to stay up to date on training and safety policies to avoid contradicting advice in the organization’s training manual and safety policies. In addition, they should be involved in the development of training programs to help ensure the information is timely. “If [supervisors] disregard or contradict the training manual, the entire program and the company’s image lose credibility with the workers,” NSC cautions.

Be hands-on

Show new employees how safety works at the organization – don’t ask them to only read the manuals and policies.

NSC offers the following as an example: If a new worker has been trained on how to read warning labels on chemical containers, enhance this worker’s training by taking him or her on a tour of the building, and pointing out hazardous material and how to properly identify them.

And keep in mind the importance of practicing what you preach. “‘Leading by example’ is a concept critical to the success of the safety and health program,” the council states.

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