New to the job

A larger number of inexperienced workers can create challenges for safety pros

Photo: PeopleImages/iStockphoto

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Time to train

After onboarding comes safety training. OSHA requires employers to provide workers with safety training that covers recognition and avoidance of on-the-job hazards. That training needs to be reinforced.

On construction project sites, HSC conducts mock OSHA inspections. “We start with the opening conference all the way to a closing conference,” Esposito said. “We do a field walkthrough where we look at every nook and cranny of a project.”

Feedback from these mock inspections mostly comes from workers new to the job. “They say, ‘Wow, that was enlightening,’” Esposito said. “It’s been a great tool for us.”

Newquist said that, when training workers in the construction industry, he’s seen employers place inexperienced team members with a seasoned crew after orientation.

Inexperienced workers are usually eager to show the employer that they’re valuable.

Bruce Loughner
Technical safety advisor
Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation

“They’re going to take direction from [the crew] and learn the job,” he said. “A lot of companies do daily job briefings, which really helps out. It just reinforces, ‘This is what we’re going to do today. These are the hazards we have to deal with. This is how we’re going to mitigate these hazards. Every day, we’re going to wear hard hats, reflective vests, safety shoes.’ That works out really well.”

In manufacturing environments, demonstrating to inexperienced workers how a piece of machinery works, as well as lockout/tagout procedures, is becoming more common, too, Newquist said. “You’re not just throwing somebody, after five minutes, onto the machine.”

Workers should be encouraged to ask questions. “The No. 1 thing I worry about is they nod their head and say they understand, but they don’t,” Newquist said.

Provide support

Conducting regular follow-ups and providing a mentor/buddy are more ways to help workers better transition to a new job or industry.

A 30-day check-in with a new employee, Newquist said, allows safety pros to review important safety information with workers and invite them to ask questions.

Mentors, meanwhile, don’t always have to be the most senior person on a job, but they can guide an inexperienced worker by sharing the value of safety. “It helps [workers] integrate better into the safety culture,” Loughner said. “It integrates them into the organization faster. Mentorship programs build confidence in employees.

“In a lot of the safety orientation programs, there’s a massive information dump,” he continued. “Employers need to build the systems to support the prevention culture, mentorship, supervision follow-up, apprentice programs, JSAs, accident analysis training. All systems need to be strongly reinforced to ensure new employees have and use the tools and resources to be engaged and productive.”

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