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On-the-job safety: How to reduce risks for new employees

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Providing a safe working environment and ensuring a safe start when new employees begin working for you is not only the right thing to do, it’s the law.

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration has a general provision requiring employers to ensure that workers are provided with proper information, instruction and supervision to protect their health and safety while performing their jobs.

This provision applies to all workers, whether new to their jobs or not, but offering the best possible supervision and introduction to workplace safety is critical for anyone new on the job.

What should employers consider?

The following tips can help employers ensure new employees are ready for work:

  • Always conduct new hire orientation and safety training.
  • Ask new workers about their previous safety education and work experience. Don’t assume a new employee knows the basics of workplace safety.
  • Verify that every new worker knows his/her rights and responsibilities, including the right to:
    • participate in health and safety training, and safety programs in the workplace;
    • know about hazards they may be exposed to on the job;
    • refuse unsafe work; and
  • Explain that the employee has a responsibility to follow safety procedures and wear any personal protective equipment (PPE) that may be required.

New employees have a higher injury risk

New employees are at a greater injury risk than their more experienced coworkers. As with all employees, workers new to the job must take an active role in protecting themselves. This includes:

  • Understanding all necessary safety measures before starting work. If they are unclear, instruct them to ask for clarification before they begin a task.
  • Following all safety measures at all times, avoiding shortcuts and wearing and maintaining required PPE.
  • Knowing how to operate, handle and respect all equipment that may be encountered on the job.
  • Ensuring machine guards are in place if required on equipment.
  • Following hazard warnings when using chemicals and obtaining safety data sheet (SDS) on hazardous chemicals if necessary.
  • Asking about emergency procedures and being prepared to follow them in the event of a chemical spill or fire.

Take extra steps if English is a second language

If English is a worker’s second language, it can contribute to on-the-job accidents and injuries. To promote worker safety, you should post signage and safety communication materials in the language in which your employees are fluent.  Contact BCN Services at 734-994-4100, ext. 108 or ext. 132 to order signage in Spanish.

Do you have questions about workplace safety at your business?  We have training and tools necessary to keep your workplace safe.  Contact BCN Services for assistance or call 734-994-4100.

Patrick Boeheim, Safety and Risk Manager