Inside Retail Services News

Training buddies for new hires can improve safety and loyalty

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When we analyze claims, one of the factors we look at is years of service. Many claims involve relatively new employees (employed for one year or less.) According to recent statistics, this factor has been trending upward over the past decade.

Retail and Professional Services— 43% of workers’ compensation claims involved first-year employees in 2021 versus 36% in 2011. +5%

Manufacturing and Wholesalers— 42% of workers’ compensation claims involved first-year employees in 2021 versus 31% in 2011. +11%

Nonprofit, Education, Religious, and Municipal Organizations— 28% of workers’ compensation claims involved first-year employees in 2021 versus 19% in 2011. +9%

Managing a business has become increasingly complex, providing adequate safety training support for new employees may have become less of a business priority, which helps explain this upward trend of claims involving new hires.

Finding adequate time to orientate new employees properly is a common problem. New employee orientations usually have a lot of ground to cover, including lots of paperwork and quick overviews of policies in short amounts of time. However, the education process can be ongoing using orientation buddies.

Every new hire should have an orientation buddy to help them get off to a good, safe start. Orientation buddies can show new workers around the workplace and point out the safety elements the company has in place, such as the location of the fire exits and extinguishers, first-aid kits, eyewash stations, chemical SDS, and PPE for the types of equipment used at the shop. By imparting safety knowledge along the way, orientation buddies have a secondary effect by making the newcomer feel “valued and informed,” which will produce more engaged and productive employees.

Orientation buddies can help:

  • Provide accurate information about policies, procedures, job hazards, and safe work practices.
  • Clarify job assignments to prevent mistakes.
  • Answer questions about hazards and help solve problems.
  • Assist with continued safety training.
  • Familiarize new workers with tools, equipment, materials, and so on.
  • Provide feedback and encourage safe work behavior.

To successfully perform these essential duties, orientation buddies should:

  • Have worked at your organization for at least one year.
  • Have a good performance history and a safe work record.
  • Be well-skilled in the new employee’s job duties.
  • Possess a broad knowledge about your organization, operations, and safety programs.
  • Have adequate time to spend with the new employee in their workday and a willingness to take on the assignment.
  • Be patient and communicate well.
  • Serve as a positive safety role model.

Building relationships through this type of mentoring is another way to ensure that new employees have the resources they need to succeed. In many instances, all new hires may need to understand task risks and practice safety comes down to additional coaching from their orientation buddies.

While new employees are often hesitant about asking questions for fear of appearing incompetent, seasoned employees can help them learn on the job and provide support to alleviate those worries. Making resources easy to access also can help reduce frustration, providing essential and effective safety training to new hires as soon as they come on board.

Safety training tools, including SAFEME, can be found on our page.

If you have any questions, please contact Rick Means at [email protected] or 360.200.6454.

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