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All Aboard the On-Boarding Train

- December 6, 2019 by Asher Sweet (View all posts by Asher)

The new hire on-boarding process – that wonderful process that new employees experience before they really start working. This is the time where new hires are ready to make a great first impression and you, as their new employer, should be too. Not only are you expected to review essential human resources and logistical information such as when they take breaks, when they get paid, details about their benefits, and have them fill out endless forms, etc., etc. but this is also when you set culture and performance expectations.  What are your expectations?  Is safety one of them?  I assume it is, but do your new employees know that they are expected to work safely?  Formally including safety expectations will set the stage for that worker to remain injury free. Below are some tips on how to set the stage for safety.

  • Walk the talk – When going through areas of your facility where you require PPE, wear it. There is nothing worse than a boss or manager that thinks they’re above the rules. Follow all the rules – stay within your aisle ways, yield to forklifts, etc. etc.
  • Talk the walk – Introduce the new hires to some safety champions. These are people who wear their PPE, do the job right and safely and can be a role model for the new employee.
  • Tour for an emergency – Show them where the first aid equipment is, where their rally points or evacuation points are, how to get a hold of someone in case of an emergency. There won’t be time to cover this during an emergency!
  • Explain that if they don’t know, ask – Too many times, supervisors assume that people know everything.  They use the dreaded phase “you know how to do it, right” or “I don’t need to explain this, right” or they simply bypass a subject assuming something is common sense.  Pride may keep the new employee from asking questions, so coach you supervisor to train the new person as if they were completely lacking any knowledge of your operations.  After all, you don’t know what bad habits previous employee may have instilled in someone. 
  • Explain that there are policies, but you may not have to explain the details of the policy. For example, if you have confined spaces, does the new employee need to know how to enter them or just that they need to stay away from them? This can apply to electrical work, chemicals, vehicles, restricted access areas, etc.
  • Make a checklist. You may only get a new employee’s full attention for a few hours before they are put to work. You can’t cover everything, unless you are organized.  Create a one page checklist to make sure you cover all the essential information.
  • Follow up after a few days, a few weeks, and a few months. Ask the employee how work is going. See if they have any safety suggestions for you. Ask them if they feel uncomfortable with any aspect of their job and help them understand it better.  You may even ask them what they wish they knew more about on the first day so you can make improvements to your on-boarding process.