Last time, we talked about how a capable and well-prepared emergency leader plays the most important role in any workplace emergency plan. The inverse also holds true. The individual worker also poses the greatest safety hazard to any workplace. Through his actions, his ability to transmit viruses and transport bacteria, and his direct access to the workplace, the worker himself has the potential to inflict the greatest harm to his co-workers.
At no other time is this threat more pronounced than in the case of new workers. A new hire is not only unfamiliar with his new workplace, he may also be more eager to prove himself to his co-workers. And sometimes this eagerness can translate into workplace accidents, particularly when the new worker is not yet that accustomed to the safety procedure of the new workplace.
A well-meaning new hire, for instance, may not be too familiar with a malfunctioning machine or equipment, yet still attempt to repair the said machine in an effort to impress his co-workers or boss. The worker here will not only be placing himself at risk, but is also risking the safety of co-workers who may later use the said equipment. A simple confusion between chemical containers and their proper storage areas would be enough to cause accidental poisoning, expose others to harmful fumes, or even cause a workplace fire. These are mistakes that can be easily committed by anyone who’s new to the job.
The best way to manage the “new worker hazard,” of course, is to provide an effective safety orientation to every new hire as soon as they enter your workforce. While regular safety training schedules are valuable for refreshing workers on safety procedures and maintaining workplace safety, a separate safety orientation program should also be set in place to provide each new worker with sufficient knowledge about crucial safety procedures in the workplace. New hires should not have to wait for the next regular safety training schedule to learn about such crucial safety procedures. Otherwise, the safety of all other workers will be very much at risk.
New Worker Safety material available on this site
Additional online resources
- Young worker portal, with content for young workers, parents, supervisors and employers
- WorkSmartOntario website, for information on workplace health and safety and workers’ employment rights and obligations
- WorkSmartCampus: health and safety information geared to post-secondary students
Other resources you may find Interesting
- Workplace Safety and Insurance Board: tips for young workers on starting a new job and dealing with unsafe workplaces
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) Young Worker Zone: online information and resources for young workers, parents, employers and teachers