Workplace safety is one area that is critically important for management to focus on during the new hire training period of short service employees.
A short service employee refers to a worker who has been employed for a relatively short period of time or has less experience in their newly assigned position.
Short service employees may be hired on a temporary, seasonal, probationary basis, or they might be hired on for a permanent role. Short service employees are new to the tasks required for their job position and should get the extra attention required until they demonstrate the knowledge and skills necessary to do their job competently and safely.
Ensuring workplace safety is important for all employees, and short service employees may benefit from extra guidance on the safety and health program. Employers have a legal obligation to provide a safe and healthy work environment for all employees, regardless of their length of service.
Short service employees may lack the experience and knowledge of long-term employees, which can make them more vulnerable to accidents and injuries on the job. Hazard recognition may not be intuitive when short service employees are not familiar with the workplace culture, procedures, and safety protocols.
To ensure the safety of short service employees, there are quite a few things employers and management can do in a way that enhances the workplace safety and health program.
Employers should provide short service employees with comprehensive training on workplace safety, including hazards specific to their job duties, safe work practices, and emergency procedures. The training should be ongoing, and employers should ensure that short service employees are up to date on any changes in safety procedures.
Experienced or senior employees can be assigned to act as a mentor to short service employees. Mentors provide guidance and support, answer questions, and help short service employees navigate the workplace safety culture. While one person may act as a mentor, all employees should speak up in a positive way if they notice short service employees engaging in unsafe behaviors or if they notice anyone new to the job who could benefit from extra assistance.
Short service employees should be included in the regular workplace safety audits, and their feedback should be taken into consideration. Safety audits identify potential hazards and also assess the effectiveness of safety controls that have been implemented. Involving short service employees in the safety audit process is a great learning opportunity.
All employees must have access to the personal protective equipment (PPE) to do their job safely, and short service employees are no exception. PPE will vary depending on their job duties and work environment and may include equipment like safety glasses, hard hats, gloves, or respiratory protection. Along with providing the equipment should come adequate training to ensure short service employees are using their PPE correctly.
When hazards are found in the workplace or at the jobsite they should be reported immediately. Short service employees should actively participate in the hazard reporting process as soon as they are trained in hazard recognition. A successful workplace safety and health program includes a hazard reporting process that is effective.
Management plays a critical role in ensuring the safety of short service employees. The leadership team sets the tone for workplace safety by making it a priority and communicating the importance of safety to all employees. Management has the opportunity to foster a culture of safety by promoting open communication about safety concerns, rewarding safe behaviors, and taking proactive steps to identify and address potential hazards.
Employers must provide the necessary resources for ensuring workplace safety, such as training materials, PPE, and safety equipment. Management should regularly monitor and evaluate safety programs to ensure their effectiveness and make adjustments as needed.
Veteran employees should lead by example and model what it means to keep a positive safety attitude. Always follow safety procedures, even if it takes longer to do the task, show up on-time to safety meetings, and accept accountability for safety on the job. It’s also important that long-term employees do not let short service employees do any task that they have not been trained to do safely.
Some organizations may choose to create and implement a short service employee program with written documentation that specifies responsibilities and training requirements.
As part of a short service employee program, it may be important for supervisors, co-workers, and project managers to be able to identify newer employees so they can watch their backs on the job. A new-hire identification system tells the team the short service employee is in a transitional period, but it does not have to be a designation of inexperience or lower skill sets. A short service identification system could be implemented in a number of ways including vests, colored hardhats, recognizable clothing or PPE, or hardhat decals.
Another key component of a short service employee program may be crew composition requirements. For example, there may be rules that state short service employees should not make up more than 50 percent of a single crew at one time and/or a crew of five or fewer employees should not include more than one short-service employee at a time.
Mentor qualities can also be defined in a written short service employee program. Mentors should speak the short service employee’s primary language, have experience with the new worker’s tasks, and be qualified for the training that is required. It is also important that mentors have a track record for working safely, have demonstrated that they can be a clear communicator who can explain the hazards of the job, and remain patient as they take the time necessary to help new workers succeed.
Ensuring the safety of short service employees is essential for their well-being and for the success of the company. By providing adequate training, assigning mentors, conducting regular safety audits, providing PPE, encouraging reporting, and fostering a culture of safety, employers can help keep short service employees safe on the job.
The management team and long-term employees all play a critical role in ensuring workplace safety, by volunteering for mentorship positions, leading by example, speaking up, setting the tone, providing resources, fostering a culture of safety, and monitoring and evaluating safety programs.
By working together, employers, long-term employees, and management can create a safe and healthy work environment for short service employees as they navigate through the early days of their of their journey within the organization.