New workers are 3 - 4 times more likely to be injured during their first month on the job. This may not come as a shock, but it does speak volumes in that we need to improve our safety cultures and be proactive in protecting our new and young workers.
As with every safety related policy, the first step to reducing the number of incidents with new workers is to become aware of the potential risks. In this group in particular we need to focus on the behaviours of inexperienced workers. These behaviours can vary greatly however there are specific behaviours that can greatly increase the chance of an incident occurring.
Typically new workers want to prove their worth to a company and will often jump into a task without proper training or preparation. Often they start working on a task without asking for clarity or instructions so they can demonstrate that they are a hard worker. This leaves new workers vulnerable because they begin work without being aware of the proper use and safety guidelines associated with the given task. To prevent this unnecessary risk, managers and team leaders need to ensure proper training and hazard acknowledgement is complete for each task that is assigned to a worker, no matter what their position. Simply by making workers aware of hazards and proper steps, we can greatly reduce the number of incidents that will occur.
New workers are not only entering a new position but are also entering into a new social group. This can make people shy away from asking questions for fear of ridicule or fear that they may lose their job. This again causes situations where workers may unknowingly perform tasks unsafely due to lack of information. This type of environment also leads to hiding when incidents occur which results in the company itself being unable to track safety within their organization. In order to prevent this, a strong emphasis must be placed on acceptable social interaction between all employees and employers. Open lines of communication must be established so that all workers feel comfortable speaking up when there is a problem.
While your regular staff have been performing and producing at the company's expected rate, new workers will often try to reach the same levels of production despite their bodies not being conditioned for it. This often leads to new workers sustaining injuries such as strains and pulled muscles. Though production is important, it is also important to ensure new workers are gradually brought up to acceptable production levels. Find creative ways to prevent this from happening such as reduce hours for new workers then gradually work them up to full-time, provide extra days off so their bodies can recover, or slowly increase the workload until they are brought up to the same level as everyone else.
While this does not cover every case of new worker injuries, this does present an interesting combination of problems including physical, mental, and social issues that must be considered if we are to keep new and young workers safe. National Safety Solutions is proud to help establish strong and effective safety cultures. Give us a call today to find out how we can help your organization achieve excellence in safety.