Don’t let new hires fall victim to poor safety culture

Date Posted: 06/01/2021
New Hire Safety

Instilling new hires with the importance of safety provides a good start, and supervisors should reinforce your safety culture during the new hire’s first few weeks on the job. However, those efforts could be undone if coworkers don’t support a culture of safety, particularly if those negative attitudes align with the new hire’s previous experiences.

New hire attitudes

If a previous employer did not support safety, a new hire could easily adopt a negative attitude toward safety from team members. To identify the experiences and attitudes of new hires, consider asking them a few questions like:

  • Was safety considered important in your past work experience?
  • What are some work rules you followed that were safety related?
  • What do you think your responsibilities are regarding safety?
  • Can you think of some reasons workers might choose to work unsafely?

The answers can give you valuable information. The idea is to show them that safety is valued at your company.

Efforts undone

New employees usually want to please their supervisors, but they’re also influenced by the attitudes of coworkers. If coworkers ignore safety rules, that attitude could infect the new worker through peer pressure.

Too often, workers (and some supervisors) view safety as a collection of rules and procedures that make the job tougher. If you find that new hires get injured or disillusioned with safety, you may have deeper culture issues to address.

Negative feedback from coworkers can quickly discourage new hires from applying the values expressed during orientation, even with ongoing supervisor support. In contrast, a positive safety culture throughout all levels will reinforce those values. Everyone should accept responsibility for their own safety and support safety efforts.

If possible, meet with new hires after a few weeks by explaining that you want to make sure they’re getting the support they need. Ask a few questions similar to those above, pointing out that there are no wrong answers and the person doesn’t need to give any names, but must be honest about their experiences on the job. Those answers could help identify if a particular department or area needs more attention to develop a positive safety culture.

How Safety Management Suite Can Help

One way to verify that everyone is following all safety rules and procedures is to conduct audits. The Audits feature in J. J. Keller® SAFETY MANAGEMENT SUITE provides numerous ready-to-use checklists with questions on dozens of topics. You can modify the checklists for your operations, and even assign audit responsibilities to others. The results can help you identify weaknesses in your safety programs.

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