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How to Protect Young, New Employees from Harm

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Fri, Jan 12, 2018 @ 01:15 PM

youngnewhire.jpgResearch from the Institute of Work and Health reveals that new workers, the first month on the job, have over 3 times the risk of lost time injury as workers with over a year's experience on the job. 

As a motivational speaker at safety meetings, I see more and more safety leaders concerned with how to motivate young and new employees to get and stay safe. Younger generations do have a vastly different work ethic, communication styles, and values. Employers have a responsibility to foster a safe and healthy work environment for all generations.

This blog will outline some of the things you can do to make sure your younger and newer employees are staying safe on the job.

The Young, Tech Savvy

The average 26-year-old has better technology in his own personal use than he does in his work. 

Being tech savvy comes with a price: lower attention spans. This means that just because you say something, it doesn't mean they are listening. Also, they may hear you but don't really understand how your advice impacts their work. Also consider that when we search information on the internet, we only skim the surface, looking for just what we need when we need it. 

Here are some tips to ensure better safety compliance with younger employers:

Talk to young employees about safety protocol and get their buy in. Have them repeat back what safety protocol means and how they are personally integrating safety at work.

Encourage them to speak up if they feel unprepared or not properly trained. Everybody has the right to refuse work that they feel is dangerous.

Have a comprehensive safety program that is mandatory for all new employees. Also, adjust your learning modules for younger generations. In terms of learning, they prefer learning to interactive and they want to be involved, they like less text and more visual pictures. They also like to track progress if possible ( think video games).

Today's teens and twenty-year-olds have access to information and resources that older generations didn't. They were also born into this technology-driven economy. Thus, they know where to find information, any time they need it. Often they mistake this information for knowledge or wisdom but what it's missing is context. Also, information on the internet could be biased. 

Thus, it's important for safety leaders to connect information to the context of the work itself. 

If you hire students or young workers, they are at extra risk because they lack the ability to see how things impact their job. Young workers may also be nervous about speaking up or asking questions, make it clear you encourage a culture where no questions are wrong to ask.

Communicate that safety is a priority and have a specific protocol for reporting potentially dangerous work.

Assign suitable work in the beginning and add responsibility only as their judgment and knowledge grows. Avoid task that requires a lot of skill, training or responsibility until this is earned. Many younger professionals are keen and believe they can do it all right away. Steer them towards easier, safer work in the beginning. 

Due to lack of understanding, a worker may decide to make changes to a job that is risky to others. Thus, new workers need a lot of supervision.

Monitor workers, provide PPE and make it mandatory to use.

There is a lot more coaching and follow up when hiring new, younger workers. Make sure that you have a solid training plan in place that is catered to each new hire. Take the time to mentor, coach and provide feedback on performance in the first few months.



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