Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data indicates that new or inexperienced employees are more frequently injured on the job than more experienced workers. In 1995, 44.8 percent of injuries reported for the construction industry happened to employees who had been with their employers 11 months or less.
Suggestions for Reducing Risk for New Employees
- Tighten employee screening processes to ensure you are choosing valuable personnel. Require all applicants to fill out a written application for employment. Require them to provide past employment history and references. Check references on all applicants you may be interested in hiring. If the job has specific physical demands or may involve exposure to a workplace health hazard, specify in a formal job description and require a pre-placement physical.
- Implement a drug-free workplace policy, which includes at least pre-employment and post-accident drug screening. Ensure your policy has undergone legal review before any testing is done. Most medical providers are equipped to administer drug tests.
- Give new employees a detailed safety orientation specific to the jobs they will be doing. Some of this will be on-the-job training, but ensure that new employees understand company safety policies, safe work procedures and safety rules. Orientation outlines and checklists can be used to ensure consistency and that all safety aspects of a job are addressed. These may also provide a form of job training documentation.
- If the job requires exposure to specific physical demands (i.e., heavy labor or repetitive motion), or temperature extremes, allow a work-hardening or conditioning period for the new employee. Allow employees to adapt to the job over a period of two or three weeks by gradually increasing the time each day that employees are exposed to the new physical demands. This will allow their bodies to become conditioned to the new demands that are placed on them and will help prevent injuries related to those demands.
- Assign a more experienced worker to be a “buddy” to each new employee for at least the first three months of employment. Hold the experienced worker responsible to look out for the new employee.
- Do not allow new employees to operate equipment until they have been properly trained and have proven their skills. For some equipment such as forklifts, there are specific training requirements mandated by OSHA.
- Ensure that employees face disciplinary action when they violate safety rules and policies.
- Have new employees wear stickers on hard hats or some other indicator to tell experienced employees to look out for them.
- Require new employees to participate in regularly scheduled safety meetings.
WCF Insurance Safety Department
NOTICE: This guide may make reference to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations; however the guide is not legal advice as to compliance with OSHA or other safety laws, codes, or regulations. Compliance with OSHA and other safety laws codes or regulations, and maintaining a safe work environment for your employees remains your responsibility. WCF Insurance does not undertake to perform the duty of any person to provide for the health or safety of your employees. WCF Insurance does not warrant that your workplace is safe or healthful, or that it complies with any laws, regulations, codes, or standards.