New Hire Hazard Training

Published On: May 13, 2024By Categories: Features, Safety, Workforce Development

Think about what they need to know and not need to know so valuable information isn’t drowned out.

By John Fowler, CSP, CMSP

Training is one of the most important things that a company can do to improve both its safety and productivity.

This is especially true when it comes to employees who are not only new to a company, but also new to the groundwater industry.

In my opinion, there should be two stages of new employee training: the first being in the classroom and the second should be hands-on at the jobsite. But all too often companies just focus on classroom training and neglect the important training that can be done in the field.

Most new hire training takes place in a conference room or a classroom. The training is usually focused on new hire paperwork, signing up for benefits, and general company rules and policies. Some companies will give OSHA 10 Training, but that depends on the company, client, and local regulatory requirements.

But even OSHA 10 Training, although full of useful information, is not tailored towards the kind of work that we do and the hazards that we encounter. No matter how well you train in the classroom, it is very difficult to communicate the hazards in the groundwater industry without actually being on a drill site or pump installation site.

When a visitor comes to our site for the first time, they should receive a safety orientation explaining things like areas to stay away from, emergency procedures and numbers, location of first aid kits, and other safety supplies.

We do this for visitors, but do we do anything like this for our new employees when they come onto a site for the first time? Do they really understand the hazards on that specific jobsite and what to do if there is an emergency?

The answer is all too often “No.” This is why after the classroom training is completed, the new hire should be taken to the jobsite and receive hands-on hazard training. This is much more than just dropping a new employee off at a jobsite and telling the supervisor to keep an eye on him. This should be treated as a continuation of the classroom training, which means there should be someone there who is not involved in production who can show the employee around the site and explain the hazards.

Necessary Jobsite Information

Each jobsite is unique, but there are many universal topics that should always be included.

For example, a new employee should know what to do in the event of an emergency:

  • What is the jobsite address if you need to call for help?
  • Where is the muster area in the event of an emergency?
  • Where are the first aid kits located?
    • Where are the fire extinguishers located?
  • If there is an automated external defibrillator (AED) or additional first aid supplies like a stretcher, where are they located?
  • How do you access Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) if you swallow or are splashed with a chemical?
  • Where is the eye wash?

This training should be more than a supervisor reading down a checklist. To be effective, the new employee should be taken on a tour around the site to see exactly where these items are located and how they function.

In addition, the new employee should be trained on the hazards of the equipment:

  • Is there mobile equipment that routinely moves around the site?
  • Is there any stationary equipment like an air compressor or generator, and if so, how do you shut it down in an emergency?
  • What parts of the equipment are guarded, and if so, why?
  • Is there anything that might automatically start or stop on the site?

Explain the hazards of hydraulics and the injuries that can come from a pinhole leak. There is also an added benefit to showing the new employee the equipment. Sometimes it takes a new pair of eyes looking at a piece of equipment for the first time to identify a potential hazard that everyone else has been overlooking for years.

Jobsite Areas of Caution

The next step of the hazard training should be to explain areas around the jobsite that may require extra caution:

  • Are there raised areas with guardrails?
  • Areas requiring fall protection to be worn?
  • Open holes to be aware of?
  • Are there any pressurized air or fluid lines?
  • Wire rope under tension?
  • Any trenches?
  • Overhead electrical lines to be aware of?

Really think about what the new employee needs to know, but also what do they not need to know. While sharing information is important, sharing useless information can easily drown out valuable information.

Share Useful Information

Finally, share any other information that would be good for the employee to know. This can be anything from:

  • Where is the nearest restroom located?
  • Where is the extra personal protective equipment (PPE) stored?
  • Where is the clean drinking water kept?

When complete, the new employee should feel comfortable to start working and you can feel comfortable that they understand the basic hazards of the jobsite and the emergency procedures.

Not only is this hands-on hazard training valuable for the new employee, but it can also serve as a safety-focused site inspection for the company.

As the trainer explains hazards and emergency procedures, they are also verifying that the equipment or supplies are where they are supposed to be and in good condition. I myself have been taken on tours as a visitor and had the person taking me around take me to where they thought the emergency numbers were posted—only to find out that someone had moved them!

______________________________________________

We invest a lot of time and money in training, but so often overlook, in my opinion, the final part: the hands-on hazard training. Yes, these employees may have had hours of training in a classroom, but most people learn visually and hands-on.

Only giving them classroom training likely means that they aren’t trained well enough to identify hazards on their own. Take the time to ensure that on day one in the field they understand the basic hazards and what to do in an emergency. This will lead to a safe and productive employee.

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John Fowler, CSP, CMSP, has been in the drilling industry for more than 20 years, working on projects ranging from the Prudhoe Bay oilfield in Alaska to ice drilling in Greenland and at the U.S. South Pole Station in Antarctica. For the past 13 years, Fowler has been working as a safety manager for a large mineral exploration drilling contractor. He is a regular safety workshop presenter at Groundwater Week. He can be reached at john.m.fowler@gmail.com.

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