Workplace Health and Safety

New workers face up to three times the injury risk: onboarding essential

Onboarding

Workers in their first month on the job are three times more likely to suffer an injury than those with over a year’s experience according to 2012 Canadian research.

Furthermore, the UK Government says workers who are in their first six months at a new job are as likely to suffer an injury in those six months as in the rest of their working lives. 

The increased risk is due to a lack of job experience and familiarity withing the work environment, a reluctance to raise concerns and an eagerness to impress workmates and managers. New workers also face a greater risk of bullying.

The Canadian research also cites inadequate safety training as a core reason new workers may be at greater risk and cites increasingly temporary or short term employment as exacerbating the problem. 

“If frequent job changing continually puts a worker at high risk, then job turnover becomes a potential health and safety issue,” the study’s author Dr Curtis Breslin said.

The research calls for businesses to develop improved safety management systems, including safety training and supervision of new workers, as well as strategies for reducing staff turnover.

 

The importance of onboarding and training:

Worksafe Western Australia’s new worker FAQ says employers, as part of their duty of care, “must provide new and young workers with safe work procedures and information, instruction, training and supervision so they are able to work safely”.

This must include a job-specific induction providing information and training on:

  • Task hazards and safety measures
  • Task-specific safe work procedures
  • Safe use of equipment
  • The use, care and maintenance of personal protective clothing and equipment (PPE)
  • Chemical safety including the safe use and storage of substances and training on material safety data sheets (MSDS)
  • Safe movement around the workplace, such as restricted or dangerous areas
  • First aid procedures, facilities and details of the first aid officer as well as the location of safety showers and eye baths

Employers must also provide a general workplace health and safety (WHS) induction which includes information and training on:

  • Facilities including the lunchroom, toilet and washing facilities
  • Emergency procedures
  • Procedures for reporting injuries and hazards
  • The roles of different staff for health and safety
  • Procedures for the resolution of WHS issues
  • Relevant workplace policies such as alcohol, drugs and workplace bullying
  • Workers’ compensation procedures

For more insight, Worksafe WA has a range of checklists and guides that can be used as part of the induction process.