For all new hires and those given new job assignments, OSHA requires employers to provide training. This includes whenever new substances, processes, procedures or equipment are introduced to the workplace and represent a new hazard or previously unrecognized hazard. For new employees especially, most of your company’s procedures will be new, so the training will need to be thorough and comprehensive.

It’s the employer’s responsibility to provide training that will enable each worker to do their job in a productive manner and to comply with applicable safety regulations. Safety training is most effective if it begins the day the worker is hired, before they can develop any bad habits. Prior to starting work, they will usually receive a packet of paperwork from HR or the bookkeeper, and it’s a good idea to include a safety primer for their job description.

If you don’t already have one, develop a safety checklist to go over before the employee goes to the shop, field, or workstation. The manager or supervisor should explain and review the list with the new employee. Have the employee sign the checklist, give them a copy, and retain a copy in your files as proof that they received, read, and understood it.

What to Cover

Start by explaining and providing a copy of the company’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program.

You should also explain:

  • The applicable company, state, and federal safety policies and programs for their type of work
  • Enforcement procedures
  • The safe use of tools and equipment
  • The work clothes and personal protective equipment they need to wear on the job
  • How, when, and to whom they should report injuries
  • Special hazards of the job
  • Emergency procedures
  • Workers’ compensation law
  • Lifting procedures and any mechanical lifting means that the company provides
  • Locations of fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and electrical panels
  • Any other safety instructions relevant to their job duties.

Statistics have shown that most workplace accidents involve employees who have worked on the job less than one year. It’s crucial that new hires understand the training materials prior to starting work.

The employee and employer or supervisor must sign documentation of all training given, no matter how brief, and must sign an acknowledgement of that training. The documentation should be placed in the employee’s file and kept for at least five years.

Proper training can help the new employee get up to speed quickly, which in turn can reduce the costs associated with learning the job and the likelihood of workplace accidents. Continue the training with regular meetings, and refresh and update old training as necessary.

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