Short-Term, Inexperienced and New Workers

February 1, 2021

The subject of short term, inexperienced and new workers at their site participating in field assignments is a hot button with many of our clients. They recognize that these people require special attention, training and guidance in order to learn how to work safely in an unfamiliar environment. Common thought used to be that the aging workforce in the UnitedStates would be the most vulnerable to injuries. Recent research has demonstrated that the under 25 age group is most likely to get hurt on the job and many workers in this demographic are severely underprepared for the risks and dangers of the workplace. Regardless of age, injuries are many times related to an individual’s preparation and experience of performing a specific task.

What's at Stake

Recent hires and inexperienced workers are a tremendous asset to many organizations, tackling jobs with energy and enthusiasm. Without the proper preparation, training, safety equipment and the leadership of an experienced person these workers are facing unique and substantial risks for work-related illnesses and injuries.

What's the Danger?

Workers can get put at risk because of their inexperience. It really matters what experience a person has at a specific facility or type of facility. Many employees hesitate to ask questions, don’t recognize workplace hazards, and fail to recognize their own limitations.

How to protect the inexperienced worker

When it comes to safety, knowledge is power. Inexperienced and new workers should be encouraged to ask questions about workplace safety, even if they feel they’re asking something that might be obvious.Before tackling a new task or project, be sure to get answers to these questions.

  • What are the hazards of this job?
  • Where do I get training on the site rules and potential hazards?
  • Will I be working around equipment or machinery that could put me at risk for injury?
  • What safety training is required?• Will I need personal protective equipment (PPE)? If so, who will provide it to me?
  • What’s the company’s emergency program?• What do I do if I find myself in a dangerous situation?
  • Who should I talk to if I don’t understand how to perform one of my job’s tasks?
  • How do I recognize and report unsafe conditions?
  • What do I do if I am injured on the job?
  • What’s my role in the company’s safety program?

Final Word

Workers new to the workplace must be trained before starting any job. They need clear, frequent instructions over the first few weeks. Some new workers may be overwhelmed with instructions at first and need to hear the information repeated more than once.

In addition to providing training, employers must make it clear to new workers that if ever they don't know or are unsure of something; it's perfectly okay to ask. The sooner everyone starts thinking about the job in a safety-minded way, the better.

Employers should consider whether a job is suitable for a new worker before assigning it. Jobs that require long training times, a high degree of skill or a great deal of responsibility, or risky tasks are usually better suited to more experienced workers.

Sometimes, due to a lack of understanding, a new worker may decide to "help out" another worker during slow times or make changes to a job in unexpected and possibly risky ways. While they may mean well, these workers need close supervision to ensure they stick to established -and safe -work procedures.

A safe workplace is a team effort. The buddy system is extremely important when working with a “short service employee” or an employee new to field work or the project site. High risk activities such as the use of fall protection also require the use of a “buddy”. If you’re an experienced worker, speak up if you observe new workers committing unsafe acts or failing to wear appropriate PPE. If it appears that your new co-worker has not received adequate training or hasn’t understood it, tell a supervisor. Set a good example. Show new workers the right way to perform a job: The safe way.