During this time of a bad economy, there are persons that are desperate for a job, and they may be happy to take one that has nothing to do with the type of work they have done in the past.  People from all professions have found themselves ousted from occupations that they have been doing for years, and are willing to take whatever comes their way, even when they may be overqualified, or lack experience in the particular job they take.  When this happens, becoming familiar with a new work situation and understanding safety issues are two of the most important things they must learn. 

It’s a known fact that during the first month on a new job, new hires are susceptible to injuries.  They should receive basic safety training from the very beginning.  Getting them acquainted with their coworkers and new surroundings is very important.  Other workers can serve as mentors and see that they understand the requirements of their job before letting them proceed alone.  In a work environment that involves machinery, the new hires must be properly taught the use of the machines, all about tools, and hazardous processes.

Of course, in occupations where Personal Protective Equipment is required, the new employee should be instructed to wear it at all times while on the job.  Whether it’s head, hand, eye, hearing, or any other type of protection, new workers should understand how to wear and maintain each particular item that they are furnished.  

Knowing how to fill out an accident report or a near miss report is another important part of orientation.  If there is an on-the-job injury, they must realize that it is urgent to notify a supervisor at the time of the injury.  If chemicals are involved in the job, understanding about Material Safety Data Sheets is a must. 

We’ve all been through the “first job” experience.  Everyone understands how nerve-wracking it can be to tackle and understand all that is expected of you.  Put yourself in the place of a new young hire, eager to learn, but somewhat overwhelmed.  You may be able to teach that person lessons that will stay throughout his/her career.  For someone who is starting all over, do whatever you can to make his/her transition a little easier. 

Take your job seriously.  There’s no room for horseplay in the work area.  Time for fun is during breaks, not when someone might get hurt while working.   Most companies train their employees on what to do in case of an accident, or how to call for help. First aid kits should be available in all areas of the workplace. 

Even though Human Resources Departments complete a checklist of items while conducting an orientation, it takes time and experience for a new hire to really get the big picture.  Once they are on the job, workers must not be afraid to ask their supervisors questions.  Paying attention to the answer may keep everyone safer.  Good luck to everyone who is starting a job, and best of luck to those who are looking for employment.