Watch that First Day—It’s a Doozy!

It was electrician Leo Micheletto’s first day on the job at Advanced Mobility in Monee, Illinois. The 58-year-old worker was working underneath one of the mobile medical units manufactured by the company when another worker accidentally pierced the hydraulic line on one of the jacks holding the trailer up. The trailer fell on Micheletto, causing fatal crushing injuries.

Even for qualified, experienced workers like Micheletto, that first day can be a doozy when it comes to safety. New workers suffer more accidents than experienced ones—even if they come with a solid background. There are two keys to keeping workers safe on their first day: training and supervision. Here’s what you can do to keep a worker’s first day from ending in disaster.

Safety Training for New Workers

All workers should receive new employee orientation—even workers who come to the job with prior experience and/or training. These can be valuable and useful to workers in a new job, but the content of prior training or the practical extent of previous work experience is difficult to verify and may not map precisely onto current workplace hazards. For this reason, prior training and experience should not be treated as an adequate substitute for ensuring that the worker receives new employee orientation training.

In order for everyone to work safely, new workers must be aware of workplace hazards and control measures. To that end, safety orientation procedures for new workers should cover at least the following basics for all employees, in addition to job-specific information:

  • General hazards in the work area
  • Specific hazards involved in each task the employee performs
  • Hazards associated with other areas of the facility
  • Safety policies and basic safety rules
  • Proper safety practices and procedures to prevent accidents
  • The proper party to talk to about safety questions, problems, and similar matters
  • How to report accidents, near misses, and emergencies
  • Emergency evacuation procedures and routes
  • The location of emergency equipment such as fire extinguishers, eyewash stations, and first-aid supplies
  • How to select, use, and care for personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Safe housekeeping rules
  • Facility security procedures and systems
  • How to use tools and equipment safely
  • Safe lifting techniques and material-handling procedures
  • Hazard communication topics, such as safe handling and storage of hazardous materials and the use of labels and safety data sheets

Supervising New Workers

Even with experience and thorough training, a new worker remains at increased risk of accident and injury. Ensure that new workers aren’t just turned loose on the first day in ways that allow them to get hurt by making sure to:

  • Inform other workers in the same work crew or department that a new worker will be joining them.
  • Assign an experienced mentor to the new worker, possibly for as long as 30 to 90 days.
  • Provide the new worker with names and contact information for individuals from whom he or she can request relevant safety information (for example, chemical hazard data or information about personal protective equipment) and to whom he or she should report potential hazards, near misses, or work-related injuries.

Need more information on effective training and supervision? will help you get it all together.