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Risks for new workers

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It makes sense that it takes a while to learn a new job. Without someone to show you a task and supervise you while you make your first attempt, it’s likely that you won’t get it right.

What if that task is something that could put you at risk of an injury, or worse even, put your life in danger? While this sounds extreme, this is the reality of some workplaces where a proper risk assessment has not been done and a new worker tries a risky task.

Tiffany Ward is unfortunately an example of a new worker who thought she was doing the right thing by taking initiative in her job in a factory, and was severely injured when both of her arms were caught in a potato processing auger. Watch Tiffany’s story.

International research has shown that, over a 10-year period, the risk of work injury for workers employed for a short time has consistently remained higher compared to those employed at a job for more than one year.

The study shows that risk is particularly elevated among those in the first month on the job, with over three times the risk of a lost-time injury as workers with over a year’s job experience.

Here are some factors to consider when a new worker starts in your workplace.

Safety inductions

Using a checklist is a simple way to make sure you’ve remembered to show your new worker where facilities such as the kitchen and bathroom are, and where necessary equipment is kept. They will also need to know how to use any personal protective equipment, how to report an incident, injury or hazard, and how hazardous substances, plant and equipment could be dangerous if not used correctly. Use the induction checklist as a standard part of welcoming new employees.

Support

Adequate supervision and support, as well as a culture that encourages new workers to feel comfortable asking questions about tasks, helps to ensure worker health and safety. This is especially important for younger workers who may lack confidence early in their working life.

Keep in mind that new workers don’t have the same knowledge and skills as experienced workers.  They need time to develop skills and adapt to the work by having a reduced workload and pace when they first start in your workplace.

More information

Last updated
29 May 2017