For most of us in agriculture, spring marks the true beginning of the new year and with it comes a long list of things that need attending to. While it may not appear to be as crucial as equipment maintenance or fixing a fence, planning and executing proper employee onboarding certainly is.
And it needs to start as soon as possible. Some organizations have new employees participate in training online while others execute in person learning in advance of their start dates. But getting them acquainted with the fundamentals should commence their first day on the job.
COVID-19 Changes the Landscape
This year’s plan will look much different than previous years, given that COVID was still an unknown quantity early last spring. New topics will earn their place in onboarding plans for 2021 including: more robust cleaning, physical distancing, PPE requirements, daily pre-screening and new levels of hygiene relating to shared tools.
Hand sanitizing stations and PPE dispensers must be pointed out along with the usual fire extinguisher and emergency exit locations.
Safety Training Requirements
As it relates to safety, this must cover areas including their understanding of everyone's role relating to the Internal Responsibility System (IRS) and worker rights.
Orientation needs to also include job specific hazard training - teaching employees to work safely with the hazards they will be exposed to in the workplace in general as well as those specific to their particular job. They need to be trained on the safest and correct way to do their job before they are left alone to do their work.
It’s a time when things can slip between the cracks. This can extend to the readiness of new staff members to take on work they appear to be capable of doing.
In the case of new or young workers, make sure that you have provided both theoretical and practical training to ensure safe and effective job execution.
Having a Plan
When the ball really gets rolling each spring, competing demands present themselves. It can feel like everything is happening at the same time with so much that needs attention and a small window to get it all done.
Having a methodical, orderly approach to onboarding and training can make all the difference. That's where having a plan makes all the difference.
Good onboarding plans are not based on managers just doing standard company overview presentations followed by site walks identifying key locations and hazards. Creating a good plan is a comprehensive process. The best plans are based on checklists that make sure new and returning workers are aware of all information critical to their safety.
They include areas such as health and safety policy, violence and harassment, first aid procedure and an introduction to health and safety representatives. Once completed and signed off, they provide an excellent record should any unfortunate incidents occur.
Our Small Business Checklist: Agriculture provides a framework for your plan. You can access it at http://wsps.news/checklist .
Our Orientation on Health & Safety for New Agricultural Workers e-course is also a great resource for new workers. For more information, visit http://wsps.news/orientation.