8 ways to build safety momentum after orientation

Jun 08, 2015

Thumbs upYou've already delivered your health and safety orientation program to your young and new workers, but how do you translate it into a self-sustaining health and safety culture? In this follow-up to 7 proven tips to make your orientation training a success, Ken Jorgenson, MPS Property Services' operations manager and health and safety coordinator, describes the company's approach.

MPS' 35 full-time and 10 seasonal employees work in crews of 2-3 people providing grounds maintenance services to commercial and industrial customers throughout the GTA, including Markham, Richmond Hill, Vaughan, Brampton, and Mississauga. Jorgenson realized early on that, with crews working independently at different locations every day, health and safety has to be integrated into everything they do.

Here are eight ways that help MPS achieve this. With a summer-long Ministry of Labour new and young worker blitz already underway, they can also help you keep your people safe and help you demonstrate due diligence.

  1. Start job- and hazard-specific training the day after orientation training. Not the same day, or you risk overwhelming people with information. Make no assumptions about their expertise. "Typically we treat people as brand new workers because we want them to do things our way." Bad habits picked up from somewhere else can put everyone at risk.
  2. Train everyone. "We start at ground zero and work our way up with everybody, even if they're with us from one summer to the next. We review everything… doing a circle check, how to start up equipment, how to operate it, how to shut it down, common safety precautions… Once we feel they’re competent, they’re ready to start their job."
  3. Encourage ongoing risk assessments. "We want everybody to stop and ask themselves, 'What could go wrong and how do I mitigate that risk?'" It's like conducting mini-assessments all day long.
  4. Team new people with experienced people. Organize work so that a young or new worker can always be seen or heard by a more experienced worker. Encourage the new and young worker to ask questions, and the experienced worker to observe and coach.
  5. Conduct weekly tailgate talks with all employees. Jorgenson usually leads these talks, partly to demonstrate management commitment to safety, but also to generate feedback. "We've made changes to the way we do things based on their input."
  6. Involve workers in decision-making, such as selecting personal protective equipment (PPE) to purchase.
  7. Have management observe and coach weekly. "We go out on worksite inspections, and take along a checklist. Have they parked their vehicles safely? Are they using traffic cones? Is their fire extinguisher fully charged? Is the first aid kit easily accessible? Are they wearing their PPE? Operating equipment safely and correctly? Using good ergonomics and body positioning? We'll also ask them questions about our policies and procedures, or 'Name three hazards on this site.' Wrong answers tell us we need to improve our training or deliver it more often."
  8. Encourage questions at every opportunity. "It's important for people to feel confident about speaking up if they're not sure how to operate the controls of a new piece of equipment."

How WSPS can help

  • Read about the Ministry of Labour's annual young and new worker blitz, especially what inspectors will be looking for - a good indicator of where workplaces go wrong.
  • Explore our vulnerable worker resources webpage, where you'll find links to
    • a pre-recorded webinar on this year's young and new worker blitz
    • new worker orientation guide
    • orientation training e-courses
    • supervisor and worker awareness training
    • pictograms, and much more
  • Learn how leadership can promote a culture of safety.