How To Keep New Construction Workers Safe
The construction industry is growing rapidly. Because of worker shortages, you need to retain the workers you do hire. Nevertheless, new employees in construction are three times more likely to suffer an injury that causes them to lose work than their co-workers who have been working a year or more. The tone for the entire employment relationship is set during the first 90 days, which is why integrating new recruits into your safety culture is so important.
What Do Construction Injuries Cost You?
According to Safety and Health Magazine, a medically consulted work-related injury costs about $32,000. This includes administrative expenses and medical expenses, as well as the costs to you, the employer, from losing an able-bodied worker. To offset the cost of each injury, your other employees each have to produce an additional $1,000 in goods or services.
Injuries to your workers also cost you in other ways. Frequent worksite injuries can affect morale among remaining employees. Workers who feel that they are not safe in their current position may start looking for work elsewhere. If you cannot retain employees, you have to keep hiring replacements, absorbing the costs of onboarding every time.
What Can You Do To Keep New Workers Safe?
New hires in construction are more vulnerable to injury due to a lack of experience and training. Fortunately, there are things you can do to keep them safe, especially during the critical initial 90-day period.
1. Set Reasonable Expectations
Safety onboarding should begin at the start of the application process. Provide job descriptions that are detailed and realistic about the physical demands the job requires. During the interview, ask specific questions of applicants about how they understood and participated in workplace safety in prior roles.
2. Provide Comprehensive Training
The training that you provide to new hires should follow a well-organized and detailed curriculum. It is not enough to explain what the safety rules are and why they are important. Employees who understand the rationale behind safety procedures are more likely to follow them.
3. Use Mentorship
Team up new recruits with more experienced employees who serve as mentors. The job of the mentors is to show the new recruits how to do the work while observing safety rules and to provide feedback when the mentees do well or when they violate safety protocols. A mentor may also be able to intervene and prevent an injury when a mentee makes a mistake.
4. Start Small
Look for lower-risk jobs that you can assign to new recruits during the initial 90 days. As they learn the safety protocols, they can gradually start to take on higher-risk assignments. It may help to create a tiered system of organizing jobs so that a new hire that reaches a certain benchmark in a low-risk position can move on to one with moderate risk.
5. Provide Positive Reinforcement
Research shows that workers are more likely to repeat desired behaviors if they receive praise for them. By contrast, constantly punishing unwanted behaviors can be disheartening. Look for opportunities to provide your new recruits positive reinforcement, and instruct trainers, supervisors, and mentors to do the same.
Award-Winning Construction Safety Experts
In addition to providing safety training and certifications, we also provide safety consulting. Contact us at (919) 463-0669 for more information about our services.