Workers are as likely to have a work-related accident in the first six months of a new job as they are during the rest of their working lives.
To address this trend, the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) and 11 district councils have joined forces to create the ‘New to the Job’ scheme.
The scheme urges employers to educate and inform new employees about health and safety procedures from day one and encourages new workers to listen and learn.
Welcoming the scheme, HSENI Chief Executive Keith Morrison said:
“Additional efforts are needed to better inform new recruits about safety issues and to put in place proper procedures to protect workers from the moment they start a new job.
“Vulnerable employees, such as young and migrant workers, are particularly at risk when starting work and employers need to take specific action to protect them.
“Sadly, during the year April 2014 to March 2015, three workplace deaths of foreign nationals were reported to HSENI. This is a huge rise from one death over the previous eight years and clearly efforts must be stepped up to prevent more tragedies.
“I’d urge all employers to make sure that all staff learn and correctly follow health and safety procedures at all times.”
There are a number of reasons why risks increase for those new to the job. For example, workers new to a site may not recognise hazards as a potential source of danger or may not understand what more experienced workers might consider 'obvious rules’ for the use of equipment.
Also, they may be unfamiliar with a site’s layout - especially where site hazards can change from day to day. In addition, new workers may ignore or not notice warning signs and safety policies, or may be more tempted to cut corners.
Supporting the scheme, Principal Environmental Health Officer at Belfast City Council, Jennifer Murphy, said: “This year we are focusing on workers from vulnerable groups, such as young people and migrant workers, and we along with District Council colleagues across Northern Ireland will be visiting businesses to remind employers of their legal responsibilities. We’ll also be offering advice and guidance on how they can protect the health, safety and well-being of all their employees.”
Employers are being encouraged to follow six steps to help protect ‘new to the job’ workers:
- capability – take time to assess the new worker’s capabilities
- induction - provide an induction which is carefully planned
- control measures - make sure the control measures to protect against risk are up to date and are being properly used and maintained
- information - provide relevant information, instruction and training
- supervision - provide adequate supervision to avoid problems due to unfamiliarity and inexperience
- check understanding - check workers have understood the information, instruction and training
You can find out more details about these six steps and more by downloading our new factsheet for employees and employers - it is available in English, Chinese, Lithuanian, Polish and Romanian.
Notes to editors:
- The Health and Safety Executive (GB) has produced figures to show the higher risk of having an accident for new starters, compared to those who have been working for longer - New to the Job - HSE (GB) website
- The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) is an Executive Non-Departmental Public Body, sponsored by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.
- HSENI is the lead body responsible for the promotion and enforcement of health and safety at work standards in Northern Ireland.