New Hire Safety Orientation: The Work Comp Playbook For Employers

Measures – such as background checks, integrity tests, and job descriptions – help you to weed out unsuitable candidates during the hiring process, while drug tests and health questionnaires can be useful once you’ve made a conditional offer. However, safety measures should not stop once you’ve hired a new employee; in fact, a new hire safety orientation is crucial to prevent on-the-job injuries.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 40 percent of on the job injuries happen to employees who have been working at the company for under a year, and 37 percent of all job-related illnesses and injuries come from employees with fewer than six years of employment (as opposed to the 31 percent of employment that they hold). Before you throw your new employees into the job tasks, we recommend having a new hire safety orientation to introduce them to the risks associated with their job.

Why New Hire Safety Orientations Are Necessary

Research from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has shown that newer have a higher rate of accidents, injuries, and illnesses than more experienced workers. As Employers Resource states, there are several main reasons why newer employees are at risk for on-the-job injuries:

  • They do not know much about what the job entails
  • They are often afraid of asking questions of their supervisors (often due to a desire to make a strong first impression)
  • They are unfamiliar with the workplace environment and its inherent risks
  • Training often focuses on how to accomplish job tasks rather than how to address job hazards
  • They may not understand the importance of using the required equipment to work safely, and their company may not properly enforce safety rules
  • Their employer may not properly enforce safety in the workplace.

More than 5,500 employees in this country die from workplace injuries each year, and 1.3 million workers suffer from nonfatal injuries that take them away from work for days at a time. On average, medical-only claims cost upwards of $1000 and adding on the cost of possible rehabilitation and return-to-work processes, devoting a day or two to safety training before your new hires’ first days will reduce unnecessary costs for your business.

What to cover in your safety orientation

There are four main factors to consider when looking at your employees and applicants – turnover rate, applicants’ average work experience, applicants’ median age, and the percentage of applicants who do not speak English (and which languages they do speak). These factors can have an important impact on your training practices.

If you have a high turnover rate, your new hire training will naturally be more expensive. However, utilizing technology in your safety training processes will decrease the expense of repeatedly training new hires. You must also adapt your training to suit your new hires, as workers with less work experience will be at more risk of illness or injury, and younger workers will learn differently from older ones. Finally, if you have a multilingual workplace, you must make sure that all of your employees can properly understand the message that you’re trying to send in your safety orientation.

We recommend a three-pronged approach to safety training: a training video, safety sign-off, and supervisor walkthrough. Having a video will help to reduce training costs in the event of a high turnover rate, and having your supervisors be involved with the safety training process will allow them to answer any questions that the new hires have and help them to better communicate the importance of safety in the workplace.


About Compass RMS

The risk management firm Risk Management, Inc. has specialized in workers’ compensation since 1996, creating the CWCP (Certified Workers’ Compensation Professional) program in 1999 and the P4 process in 2000. We launched our Compass Risk Management platform in 2008 and recently released version 4.0. For more information about our services, give us a call at (770) 534-2042 to speak with one of our consultants.