Q&A on Safety Training for New Hires

by ckilbourne

You have just hired new workers and you want them to become familiar with their new tasks quickly but safely. In today’s Advisor, we provide answers to several common questions about new employee orientation and training.

Q: Is safety training or orientation needed for temporary workers?
A: When an employer hires workers from a temp agency, both the temp agency and the employer are responsible for documenting that the employees were trained to understand and avoid all potential hazards at the employer’s site.

Q: Who conducts the safety orientation?
A: Employer representatives at a recent OSHA outreach meeting in Connecticut offered some advice for conducting employee orientation/training:

  • For employers with a safety or HR manager, the manager can conduct the classroom part of orientation/training, prepare all the training materials (handouts, forms, checklists, lesson plan, etc.), conduct the employee evaluation, and maintain all documentation. The facility supervisor(s) can conduct the on-the-job training and observation, and determine when the employee is ready for the evaluation.
  • For employers without a safety manager or trainer-qualified HR manager, the company safety committee, HR manager, and department can share responsibilities for conducting the job hazard analyses and the training program. The safety committee and HR manager can put together the orientation/training materials, conduct the "classroom" training, and keep records. The department where the new employee will work can conduct the hands-on training.

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Q: What types of topics should be covered for safety orientation?
A: During the orientation period, introduce new workers to all the basic safety information that applies to their work areas, such as:

  • General hazards in the work area
  • Specific hazards involved in each task the employee performs
  • Hazards associated with other areas of the facility
  • Company safety policies and work rules
  • Proper safety practices and procedures to prevent accidents
  • The location of such emergency equipment as fire extinguishers, eyewash stations, and first-aid supplies.
  • Smoking regulations and designated smoking areas
  • Emergency evacuation procedures and routes
  • Whom to talk to about safety questions, problems, etc.
  • What to do if there is an accident or injury
  • How to report emergencies, accidents, and near misses
  • How to select, use, and care for personal protective equipment
  • Safe housekeeping rules
  • Facility security procedures and systems
  • How to use tools and equipment safely
  • Safe lifting techniques and material-handling procedures
  • Safe methods for handling, using, or storing hazardous materials and the location of safety data sheets

Q: How is the effectiveness of an orientation program evaluated and improved??
A: Orientation programs can be updated and refined by reviewing accident near-miss reports. Near-miss reports offer early warning signs of new or recurrent hazards in the workplace that must be corrected before someone gets hurt or equipment is damaged. The evaluation of illness and injury reports is also a catalyst for changes in safety orientation and training programs.

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Q: What types of safety orientation are there?
A: Orientation can involve several levels of new employee involvement, from awareness information to formal training programs. Awareness orientation/training informs employees about a potential hazard in the workplace and their role in responding to the hazard, even though they are not directly exposed to the hazard. For example, "affected" employees can be told about locks and tags for electrical systems without being trained on how to implement the lockout/tagout program.

Why It Matters

  • 40 percent of all workers injured on the job have been doing the job less than a year.
  • Keep your new hires out of the statistics by giving them effective and comprehensive safety orientation.
  • Ensure ongoing safe work practices from new hires by following up on orientation training.


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