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How safe are your new starters?

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With the Christmas rush fast approaching, it’s important to consider the impact that an influx of new starters can make on a site’s accident risk.

Research shows that, on average, new workers are just as likely to get injured during their first 6 months in a new job as they are during the entire rest of their working life.

This means they’re more than 3 times as likely to have an accident in that first 6 months than someone who’s been in the job for five years.

Why is this?

Well, these accidents often arise when the worker lacks experience in the role and/or familiarity with the work environment. As a result, they may have trouble spotting hazards; they may not be used to the controls of the equipment; they may be unfamiliar with site layout and safety measures, and they may have picked up bad habits in their previous role.

Of course, these accidents don’t always result in injuries, but the costs and disruption associated with dropped pallets, dented racking and damaged lift trucks can still cause serious issues, particularly at such an important time of year.

Get the most from your new employees

The benefits of taking on those extra members of staff can be quickly lost if your increased productivity is cancelled out by increased disruption. To get the best value from your new employees, you need to make certain they have the specific skills and knowledge they need to become a safe and effective part of the team.

A vital first step is evaluating the skills and knowledge of all new staff and checking their documentation is valid. You need to establish what – if any – accredited forklift training they have recently received, and how closely they follow best practice, so you know exactly what training they’ll need before using the equipment.

The best way to ensure your new operators are safe and ready for work is to make sure they have undertaken all 3 required elements of lift truck training outlined in the HSE’s definitive guidance on forklift operations, Approved Code of Practice, L117:

  • basic training (delivered by an external provider or qualified internal instructor)
  • specific job training (delivered off-the-job by the employer)
  • familiarization training (delivered on-the-job by the employer)

For an explanation of what should be included in each, take a look at our previous article.

Considering their training needs does more than keep workers safe or minimise disruption: it ensures you comply with the Law, too. L117 makes clear the need for proper training and supervision of all staff, including new starters.

And remember, it’s not just operators who need training either. You may employ seasonal staff who have never worked with or alongside forklifts. They won’t be aware of the associated dangers… and yet, it’s these pedestrians at the greatest risk of injury. HSE statistics show that 57% of those injured in forklift accidents were on foot at the time of impact.

If you’re in any doubt, our Managing Forklift Operations course outlines the key legal requirements and the safety, practical and financial benefits of ensuring best practice across all staff, regardless of how long they spend with your business.

Training shows staff that you take safety seriously and that their welfare is valued, even if they’re only with you for a while. A safe working environment has a positive impact on staff morale, and that in turn can have a positive impact on productivity.

The better prepared your new starters are to start work safely, the more seamless their integration into your team, which ultimately benefits them, their colleagues, and your bottom line.

If you’d like to discuss this further with one of our experienced advisors, contact us; we’re happy to help.

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