Take pains to ensure new employee orientation and training are enlightening, not overwhelming.

Most waste companies and municipal sanitation departments offer some type of orientation and training program for their new employees. Often the scope and formality of these programs is related to the size of the waste company or sanitation department. Regardless, all waste services entities should make sure that their employee orientation and training programs are well documented.

When a new employee joins a waste company or municipal sanitation department there is a tremendous amount of material that must be covered as part of the orientation process. In addition to human resources issues (payroll, benefits, time off, etc.) orientation will also cover a myriad of other items such as organizational structure and key personnel, company policies and safety rules, and familiarization with the organization’s facility vehicles and equipment.

The sheer volume of the material covered during the orientation process can lead to problems. New employees may be bombarded with so much information in a short period of time that comprehension and retention of what they are learning can suffer. Of greater concern is that important information may be inadvertently left out of the orientation process due to the amount of material to be covered.

Because of the above concerns, it is important to have the entire orientation process laid out as a checklist. This ensures that all important items are covered with the new employee. The orientation process should also allow time for the new employee to thoroughly review all of the material presented and ask questions if necessary. The orientation document should include spaces for the employee and the orientation leader(s) to initial that a particular topic or item has been covered and is understood.

Once the orientation is complete, a period of training usually takes place. Training is not only vital for new employees. It is also essential for current employees taking on a new job function or using vehicles, equipment or machinery that they are unfamiliar with. The training process must cover all of the essential job functions that an employee is expected to perform and the safety precautions associated with each task.

Employee training should also be thoroughly documented using a checklist style document. That said, the goal is not to just sign off that an employee was shown the proper way to perform a task. Rather, the true goal should be for the employee to demonstrate to the trainer that he or she can competently perform each task in a safe and efficient manner. Only then should the trainer check the task off the list.

When a waste company or municipal sanitation department develops checklist style documentation of their orientation and training processes they gain peace of mind that important items will not be omitted. Should a serious accident or injury occur, this documentation is crucial to showing that the organization acted in a prudent manner regarding employee orientation and training.

Bruce Hooker works for Mattei Insurance Services Inc. based in Sacramento, Calif.

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