Several studies have suggested that employees are more likely to get injured or involved in an accident within the first six months to a year on the job.
These findings do not indicate that newer employees are less safe or more prone to injuries and other work-related accidents; however, in most cases, it is a result of several factors, including inexperience in performing tasks for the first time, not being familiar with the use of certain tools or equipment, not having a thorough understanding of their work environment, or sometimes, just trying to get the job done at all cost in order to create a first impression.
It’s no secret that these injuries and work-related accidents are costing employers millions of dollars both in direct and indirect costs, ranging from workers’ compensation to low morale and lack of productivity. Employers have realized this growing problem in the workplace and are implementing programs that specifically target new employees.
Faith Technologies recently rolled-out a Short Service Employee (SSE) program that targets new employees during their first six months of employment. The program begins on day one when an employee is issued a blue hard hat indicating their SSE status.
All new employees are enlisted in the program, regardless of experience or tenure within the industry. Faith Technologies’ newly hired vice president of safety was even initiated into the program with a blue hard hat, which he wore during his first six months.
The new employees are assigned a mentor; another employee who has more experience and a longer tenure with the company or on a specific jobsite (typically more than one year). The role of the mentor is to guide and coach new employees, as well as make their transition smooth and easy during their first months on the job. They are given a list of components to evaluate the SSE on, including the following:
- ensuring the new employee actively participates in the daily operational risk management process;
- Understanding near-miss and injury reporting procedures;
- Demonstrating safe use of tools and equipment;
- Locating SDS, first-aid and incident reporting kits;
- Selecting the correct tools, equipment and PPE for the task-at-hand;
- Identifying and communicating hazards to jobsite leaders and fellow coworkers; and
- Maintaining a clean work environment, free of housekeeping hazards.
At the end of the six-month mentorship program, mentors are then required to complete a short survey on new employees to determine their performance. New employees do the same, and have the opportunity to evaluate their mentor and their overall engagement in the safety culture. A good survey from the mentor means the new employee has successfully completed the mentorship program and is qualified to graduate.
During an informal ceremony on the jobsite or in the office, the new employee’s blue hardhat is swapped for a white one by a member of upper management (e.g., group manager, project manager or safety manager) signifying a successful completion of the program. As an extra incentive, the new employee also receives safety recognition points that can be redeemed for company apparel, tools, gift cards, etc., in the company’s online store.
Faith Technologies recently recognized the first group of graduates from the SSE program. Although it’s still early to assess the impact of this program, the initial surveys suggest that the program has been beneficial.
The company has already received near-miss reports citing the impact of how SSE is preventing incidents. The ultimate goal of this program is to ensure new employees are able to demonstrate an understanding of safety culture, as well as display an overall positive attitude toward it. Achieving this goal makes each jobsite safer, and to a large extent guarantees that every employee is able to go home safe to their loved ones every day.