Safe Start

Give your new hires a foundation in safety.

Each Year, 6 million workers suffer non-fatal workplace injuries at an annual cost to U.S. businesses of more than $125 billion, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) statistics. Of those 6 million injured, 40 percent are employees who have been with the company less than one year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In light of this data, employee safety training seems a wise investment for employers, especially in high-risk sectors like the waste industry. Companies should start right away with their new recruits.

To be sure, many waste companies already provide some form of introductory training or orientation for new hires, as government regulation, insurance carrier requirements and pure common sense dictate. But, many employers still fail to recognize the importance of immediate and extensive safety training that should begin on the first day of an employee's tenure.

For new employees, knowing how to do their jobs properly should mean recognizing the need for safety in the workplace, understanding the role they play in ensuring a safe workplace, and demonstrating the right attitude toward safety by understanding and consistently following safety rules and procedures.

A training program for new waste firm workers should include the following:

  • Reporting procedures for medical, fire and other emergencies

  • Hazardous materials identification

  • Accident avoidance

  • Ergonomic and safe work procedures, such as proper lifting techniques

But safety should be more than a pile of procedures and checklists. It should be a core value within the company. There may be no better way for a new employee to learn about a firm's commitment to safety than by having a senior employee take him or her “under wing.” Pairing a new employee with a mentor to observe safety procedures in action as a complement to standard training has many advantages.

Mentoring has been found to help new employees acclimate to the company, which in turn helps reduce employee turnover rates. Less turnover means that the company is not losing its base of skilled and highly trained employees. That, in turn, minimizes the potential risks associated with hiring and training new employees.

Most companies cannot afford to risk an accident or safety violation due to the inexperience of a rookie employee. Improving safety practices can reduce insurance, medical, liability and other costs; improve employee morale; and decrease turnover.