How to Onboard and Train Employees into a Safety Culture
Once you attract and hire qualified job candidates to your open positions, having an onboarding and training process can help employees work safely and effectively. A continuous onboarding program will help orient employees not only to the functional details of employment, such as appropriate safety procedures, but also to the safety culture of the organization.
Employee retention strategies, such as onboarding and training programs, can also help protect the considerable time and expense invested in recruiting and hiring new employees. According to the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) at the University of California at Berkeley, the costs of replacing an employee are approximately 9% of an employee’s annual wage. In addition to any lost productivity and institutional knowledge, those costs include recruitment, selection, the costs of learning on the job and any separation costs.1
A Continuous Onboarding and Training Process
While some employers think of onboarding only for new employees, the process is also important for retaining and engaging employees over the full term of their employment. Existing employees, whether they are changing roles or returning to work after an injury in a transitional duty program, can benefit from an onboarding and training program that focuses on safety. This part of the process is important, as Travelers research shows that 28% of workplace injuries occur within the first year of employment.
“Employee engagement is an outcome of having good programs,” says Nirmal Traeger, Vice President, Risk Control, who notes that further onboarding and training might be necessary if there is a change in operations at an organization, such as the implementation of new equipment or processes. “Continuous onboarding and training programs identify and respond to new requirements throughout the course of the employee’s working life, including returning to work after a lost time injury.”
The orientation process should include an overview of the general facility, job-related roles and the overall culture of safety. Employees can learn, for example, about the location of emergency exits, eye wash stations and safety data sheets, and become aware of safety-related procedures, such as how to report an injury or an unsafe condition.
On-the-Job Safety Training
Whether for a new employee or someone new to a specific role or task, employers can provide useful on-the-job safety training that promotes the organization’s overall safety culture. These activities include on-the-job safety training and an orientation.
On-the-job safety training and orientation should include both skill-based and awareness-based training. This gives employees tactical knowledge and cultural awareness of why safety practices are important.
- Skill-based training demonstrates the actual hands-on procedures necessary to perform a specific task, such as operating a piece of machinery.
- Awareness-based training includes general policies, hazard recognition and expectations for maintaining a safe and healthy work environment.
Next: Supporting and Engaging
1 Arindrajit Dube, Eric Freeman and Michael Reich. (2010). “Employee Replacement Costs.” IRLE Working Paper No. 201-10. http://www.irle.berkeley.edu/workingpapers/201-10.pdf
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