The Importance of Training Employees from the Start

OSHA requires employers to train all employees, including new hires and those given new job assignments for whom training has not previously been received.

All employees should receive new training whenever new substances, processes, procedures or equipment are introduced to the workplace and represent a new hazard or a previously unrecognized hazard. But to new employees, most of your company’s procedures will be new, so the training will need to be thorough and comprehensive.

It’s the employer’s responsibility to provide training that will enable workers to do their job in a productive manner and to comply with applicable safety regulations.

Safety training is most effective if it begins the day the worker is hired. Prior to starting work, they will usually receive a packet of paperwork from the HR department or bookkeeper. You should include in that packet a safety primer for their job description.

If you don’t already have one, develop a safety checklist to go over before they go to the shop, field or workstation. The manager or supervisor should explain and go over the list with the new employee.

Have the new employee sign the checklist, give them a copy and retain a copy in your files as proof that they received, read and understood it.

What to cover

Start by explaining and giving them a copy of the company Injury and Illness Prevention Program.

You should also explain:

  • The applicable company, state and federal safety policies and programs for their type of work.
  • Your enforcement procedures.
  • The safe use of tools and equipment.
  • The work clothes and personal protective equipment they need to wear on the job.
  • How, when and to whom they should report injuries.
  • Special hazards of the job.
  • Emergency procedures.
  • Workers’ compensation law.
  • Lifting procedures and any mechanical lifting means that the company provides.
  • Where the fire extinguishers, first aid kits and electrical panels are located.
  • Any other safety instructions relevant to their job duties.

Statistics have shown that most workplace accidents involve employees that have worked on the job less than one year. It’s crucial that new hires understand the training materials prior to going to work.

The employee and owner/supervisor must sign documentation of all training given, no matter how brief, and an acknowledgment of that training. The documentation should be placed in the employee’s file and kept for at least five years.

The benefits of training new employees:

  • It makes them more productive.
  • It makes them feel better about themselves and have more confidence in their ability to do the work safely, and lets them know you care about their safety and well-being.
  • It results in fewer accidents and injuries.
  • It helps retain employees.

The takeaway

Start new employees out on the right foot and prevent accidents before they happen by providing them with the proper safety training they will need to safely perform their work.

Continue the training with regular meetings and refresh and update old training as necessary.

Proper training can help the new employee get up to speed quickly, which in turn can reduce the costs associated with learning the job and the likelihood of workplace accidents.

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