SAFETY SOLUTIONS: Safety & New Employee Orientation
I have acted as a machine guarding expert testifying to
whether a machine was safe to operate by design or
if the operator received proper training before they
were allowed to operate the machine. In about 95% of the
cases I handle, one or the other was at fault. Either the
guard was inadequate or the employee did not receive the
proper training as outlined in the machine manufactures
In the U.S. today, many manufactures and suppliers of
machines do not provide the necessary guards when you
purchase their equipment but rather, offer them as accessories.
If you are going to purchase a machine, you need
to know if it is safe to operate as is or if additional guarding
should be purchased. Consequently, workers who
operate and maintain machinery suffer approximately
18,000 amputations, lacerations, crushing injuries, abrasions
and over 800 deaths per year. Often these injuries
are a result of and accident caused by an inexperienced or
poorly trained worker.
When Should Orientation Begin?
Informal orientation begins when you decide to hire
someone and make the job offer. If you have a handbook,
and most employers should, be sure the employee signs a
form acknowledging receipt of the handbook and an
agreement to read it. If your handbook contains a provision
that all employees will receive an orientation, be sure
you follow through. Check federal, state and local laws on
hazardous materials to see if you are required to provide
notification and training. If you require physical examinations
and one has not been completed prior to hiring, it
should be done before the employee starts work.
Formal orientation is much more effective some time
after employees begin work. They will have some knowledge
of the organization, will be more relaxed and will
gain more from a program conducted a few weeks after
Normal orientation begins in the department on the
first day. Items covered by the departmental supervisor
1. If the worker is going to operate a machine, ensure that
they read and understand the owners/operators manuals.
If they have not read this document, you have not
properly trained them in the operation of the machine.
2. Ensure that the person training the employee on the
machine is also well trained in these documents. Most
accidents occur due to lack of proper training.
Many organizations provide a checklist to guide the
supervisor through introduction and orientation to
department procedures, routines and tasks. Giving a copy
of the checklist to the new employee serves to remind
them of the topics that need to be covered.
In a real sense, orientation continues beyond the formal
programs. It is wise to follow up on how new people are
doing at least through an introductory period. It's important
to clear up any misunderstandings during this time.
Anything that can be done to reduce turnover and help
new people become fully productive is worthwhile.
Follow up also allows you to check the effectiveness of
your formal and informal programs. Were items of interest
left out? Could topics be covered more efficiently or effectively?
Is the information being retained? Are supervisors
up-to-date on policy and procedures?
Training is one of the most critical elements of your
injury and illness prevention program. It not only allows
employees to learn their jobs properly and bring new
ideas to the workplace, it also puts your program in to
action. Your employees will benefit from safety and health
training through fewer work-related injuries and illnesses.
You benefit from reduced workplace injuries, increased
productivity, lower costs and a more cohesive and dependable
An effective safety program includes training for both
supervisors and employees. To be effective and help meet
state and federal requirements, your training program
should start with your supervisors. They should know:
1. They are the key persons responsible for the establishment
and success of your safety program.
2. They are responsible for being familiar with safety and
health hazards to which their employees are exposed;
how to recognize them, the potential effects these hazards
have on the employees and rules, procedures and
work practices for controlling exposure to those hazards.
3.How to convey this information to employees by setting
good examples, instructing them, making sure they fully
understand and follow safe procedures.
4.How to investigate accidents and take corrective and
Your employees should know:
1. The success of the company's safety program depends
on their actions as well as yours.
2. The safe work procedures required for their jobs and
how these procedures protect them against exposure.
3. When personal protective equipment is required, how
to use it and maintain it in good condition.
4. What to do if emergencies occur in the workplace.
As the employer, you must ensure that all employees
are knowledgeable about the materials and equipment
they are working with, what known hazards are present
and how they are controlled.
Each employee needs to understand that:
1. No employee is expected to perform a job until he/she
has received instructions on how to do it properly and safely and is
authorized to perform the job.
2. No employee should undertake a job that appears to be unsafe.
3. No employee should use chemicals without fully understanding their toxic properties and without the knowledge required to work with them safely.
4. Mechanical safeguards must always be in place and kept in place.
5. Employees are to report to a supervisor all unsafe conditions or work practices encountered during work.
6. Any work-related injury or illness suffered, however slight, must be reported to management at once.
7. Personal protective equipment must be used when and where required and properly maintained.
Your safety training program should be customized around your operations and exposures. At a minimum, it should provide training and instruction:
1. To all employees given new job assignments for which training has not been previously received.
2. Whenever new substances, processes, procedures or equipment are introduced to the workplace and present a new hazard.
3. Whenever new personal protective equipment or different work practices are used on existing hazards.
4. Whenever you or your supervisors are made award of a new or previously unrecognized hazard.
5. For all supervisors to assure they are familiar with the safety and health hazards to which employees under their immediate direction and control may be exposed.
A well-written and implemented new employee orientation program is the first step in hiring and training the best individuals for the job. It reduces turnover, assists in providing a safer work place for your employees, helps comply with local, state and federal requirements, reduces operating expenses and improves productivity.
Employee exposure to unguarded or inadequately guarded machinery is prevalent in many workplaces. If you are attending the AWFS®Fair this year and if you are planning on buying a new piece of machinery, then you should know if your machine and the machine guarding meets the intent of the OSHA or ANSI standard for that particular type of machine. If you do not know if it meets the intent of OSHA or the American National Standard (ANSI) for that particular type of machine, we would be happy to tell you. Podojil & Associates, Inc. are experts in representing employers when OSHA shows up at your place of employment. So if you do not know yourself if your machine is safe, ask someone who does.
For more information, click on the author biography at the top of the page.