When it comes to establishing a company safety culture and ensuring that it sticks, you need to start everyone off on the right foot. Especially on construction sites, there is always some safety training and orientation required to onboard a new hire. If you do it right, you can instill in each employee the values and habits around safety that you want them to have.
That’s easily said, however, and not so easily done! Getting your newbies on the right page from the start means careful planning of the onboarding process. It might mean that it takes a little while longer, but it’s worth it in the long run. Managing an effective safety culture is easier with a strong foundation.
The following are a few things to think about when putting together an onboarding program for new hires.
Commitments, expectations and responsibilities
Keeping employees safe is not solely the job of the employer—each worker must commit to participating in the company safety culture. For this to be effective, it is important to lay out the expectations and responsibilities of employees in their various roles. A commitment-based approach to safety can be more effective than a control-based one, as it gets buy-in from all involved.
In any seminars, talks or written material involved in the onboarding process, ensure that the company’s commitment to safe operations is emphasised and the responsibilities of the new employee listed. In fact, we highly recommend developing a health and safety statement that can be explained and studied during the orientation period and signed by each employee before they can begin work. It might include:
- Employer responsibilities
- Employee responsibilities
- A brief overview of how safety will be managed
- A statement about the company’s safety culture
- A commitment to safety by all involved
This could be separate from the detailed safety handbook or contract—it should be short, memorable, and focused on communicating the company’s goals and ethos. It should also be readily available to anyone.
Each worksite is different, and employees should be trained to handle the bumps in the road on their specific site. This could mean that everyone starting on a new site, not just those new to the company as a whole, may need some intensive training. There are unique hazards on any work site, and they must be explicitly discussed.
One of the most important aspects of safety on a worksite is having the right data. SafetyTek is well aware of this, and our software serves to help companies collect, collate, and benefit from data.
For reporting to be effective and helpful, new employees should be made aware of the processes—it’s a crucial aspect of their introduction to your company’s safety culture. Whether your data collection involves paperwork or is done through a safety management software, ensure that everyone knows what they should record, how often, and how to access the information gleaned from safety data. The procedures for reporting are a particularly important part of any safety training curriculum, and it should become second nature for any worker to record incidents and anything else they are expected to note.
PPE, gear, and equipment
Knowing what to wear and how to operate tools and equipment is, of course, crucial. Personal protective equipment is a primary component of safety on a worksite, and it is important to ensure that everyone knows what they should wear and how they should wear it right from the beginning.
Teaching the use of any relevant tools and equipment is another major aspect of onboarding new employees. If there are certifications required for a worker to operate a particular piece of machinery, we recommend getting that done as early on as possible. SafetyTek’s employee training matrix can help companies and administrators to keep track of certification and training requirements.
A fantastic way of initiating new hires into the company safety culture is to pair them up with a trusted and experienced mentor. As explained in this article, this practice can be beneficial to both mentee and mentor, providing learning experiences to both.
For it to work well, you will need to:
- Choose mentors with leadership qualities who are passionate about safety.
- Adequately train your mentors.
- Establish a framework of what knowledge they should be providing the new hires. Give them a process and a desired outcome.
- Periodically review the effectiveness of your mentors to ensure that they are having the impact you envisaged.
- Set a timeframe for the mentoring relationship.
Right from the beginning, it is valuable to evaluate the progress of workers regarding their safety knowledge and performance. This doesn’t mean looking out for mistakes so you can get on a newbie’s case. It’s about keeping track of what they are doing well and where they could improve—so you can guide, positively reinforce, and encourage employees to achieve their best possible performance.
Keeping records is a big part of this. If you don’t want to drown in paperwork, think about implementing a good safety management software to take care of the filing.
Keep safety at the forefront
The numbers back up the fact that it’s essential to properly orient new hires. The 2018 ABC Safety Performance Report indicated that companies with orientation sessions of 200 hours or more improve their TRIR rates by 85%.
Keeping your company safety culture robust is the best way to keep your worksite productive, accident-free, and profitable. One of the best ways to ensure everyone is on the same page is to track and manage safety reporting, audits, incident management, and training requirements with a powerful software like SafetyTek. Find out more about what it could do for your company safety culture.