Is Your New Employee Orientation Up to the Test?

Whenever a new employee comes on board, there is a period of training and learning in which the new employee learns about the company’s safety and health programs, emergency action plans, fire protection policy, and any other safety-related issues that the employee must know.

This is also an opportunity to influence the new employee on the safety culture of the company, and positively influence that employee to keep safety always in mind.

The employee orientation should be started during the employee’s first day on his or her new job. The entire orientation program may be broken up over a period of a few days, but when it is complete, employees should know the following safety information:

  • The organization’s safety objectives and goals.
  • The function of the corporate safety committee.
  • What employees should do if they are injured on the job.
  • What to do in case of an emergency.
  • The procedures for reporting accidents, near-miss incidents, hazards, injuries, and illness.
  • The facility’s use of warning signs and tags.
  • OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements and employee access to exposure and medical records.
  • The safety rules and safe procedures that apply to their jobs (especially for tasks with OSHA-required training).

Safety is an attitude that must be conveyed to new hires, rehires, and departmental transfers. While newly hired employees often receive safety orientation training, rehires and departmental transfers are often overlooked because they may not be considered new in terms of brand new to the company. However, over time, policies and procedures change, work processes change, chemicals used in processes change, and the hazards and exposures may vary from one department to another. For this reason, rehires and transferred employees need to be included in the safety orientation program.

The orientation process should be conducted by a safety department representative, and, if possible, include the employee’s supervisor as well. Having a safety department representative present the majority of the time lends credibility to the organization’s safety function, and promotes an awareness of the organization’s commitment to safety in general. Having the employee’s supervisor explain how safety is working in production operations presents tangible evidence that the organization's safety policies are actually being practiced.

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