Creating a culture that promotes safety at work should be every employer’s priority – and it’s equally important if you hire seasonal staff.
With spring here and school wrapping up, many municipalities and organizations in a variety of sectors will set sights on hiring summer help. More than 3 million people will soon become seasonal or temporary workers in the U.S. and are 50% more likely to suffer an injury or fatality at work.
We can do better.
Seasonal help may be temporary or part-time, but those workers should receive the same site-specific safety training as any regular full-time employee. This becomes even more important when we consider that for many seasonal workers and summer help, it’s their first time in the workforce or their first encounter with safety concerns that full-time workers consider common knowledge. Training for these employees is essential to ensure they have the knowledge to keep themselves – and others – safe.
Seasonal employees are often new employees and should be treated as such. They are new to your organization and new to the job. They may not have all of the skills and knowledge to conduct their tasks safely. For them to be a functioning part of your team, training new employees is a step that cannot be overlooked.
Two questions to ask before setting training goals for employees are: What tasks will your seasonal employees be conducting? What are the hazards associated with these tasks?
Seasonal pool employees may need education on bloodborne pathogens if they will be responding to emergencies, they should know where blood spill kits are stored and what steps are needed to properly dispose of the biohazard bags. They need to be educated on site-specific safety such as emergency response plans for circumstances like fire or severe weather and chemical exposure.
When we shift our sites to seasonal employees in parks departments, safety tasks look different and become more technical. Does the employee know how to properly tie down a mower onto a trailer? What processes are in place for controlling hazardous energy when servicing equipment?
There are several ways to provide training. A seasonal training handbook is a great start to lay out the new employee’s roles and responsibilities. An in-person training session is another way to cover all site-specific required material and create a positive atmosphere to ask questions and share ideas. Small daily toolbox talks, or a daily safety meeting, conducted by the employee’s supervisor or team leader can be another option.
Whatever training works best for your organization is fine as long as the employee is allowed time for a question and answer period and demonstrates competence. Even if you have returning, seasonal employees, training is still essential. Rules and procedures may have changed over the past year, and a refresher is never a bad idea.
Including safety training as part of onboarding is essential. Not only is this a great time to educate the new employee on your organization’s policies and procedures, but it is also an opportunity to provide what is oftentimes the first glimpse into safety culture and Occupational Health and Safety Administration or state program regulations.
This investment in new and seasonal employees cannot end at a single training event. Management and supervisors should ensure they create follow-up and support to encourage new employees to use tools provided during the training. Creating a culture where the seasonal help feels comfortable asking for clarification on safety issues is key to making a lasting impression