New employees are three times more likely to become injured on the job compared to those who have been on the job for more than a year, according to research from the Institute for Work & Health. While workers are settling into their new roles and becoming familiar with coworkers and supervisors, their safety may not be at the forefront of their thinking.

Why are new employees at higher risk? 

There are many factors and causes that are linked to a new employee’s higher risk of workplace injuries. Some of the leading causes include:

  • They may be unfamiliar with their duties.
  • They could be unaware of potential hazards in the workplace.
  • They are just learning how to run new machinery.
  • They are often unaware of all safety protocols.
  • Some don’t receive proper orientation or safety program training.
  • New employees are less likely to report suspected hazards or dangers.

It seems that the highest risk that new employees have is the lack of specific training as well as safety training. While much of this experience, knowledge, and familiarity will come with time, proper safety training programs can help to significantly reduce these incidents.

What the statistics tell us

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics one-quarter of all new employees that had non-fatal injuries in the first year of employment, had those injuries occur within the first 31 days of their employment, proving that experience on the job helps to improve worker safety. In other industries, the statistics are even higher due to the seasonal nature of the business or the dangerous conditions that the employment presents.

In industries such as construction and agriculture, percentages were as high as 35% and 45 percent respectively for workers who were injured during their first year on the job. This is believed to occur not only due to the increased risks and hazards that come with the job but also the fact that workers are often seasonally employed and may not have enough time on the job.

How do you solve the problem? 

With businesses knowing the risks of injury to their new employees, the question becomes, “how can a company reduce the number of injuries that occur with new workers?” 

Proper training: One of the most common causes of workplace injuries during the first year of employment is the lack of proper training before employees working in dangerous or hazardous situations. To help reduce the number of injuries, it is important to have your employee complete both basic and job-specific safety courses as well ad require them to read through any necessary training manuals.

Support safety reporting: New employees are still learning their way around the company, their coworkers, and their bosses and may be more hesitant to report safety-related concerns or hazards that they may encounter in the workplace. To alleviate this problem, make sure there is an open line of communication between safety personnel and employees and encourage them to let their supervisor know when they feel there may be a safety hazard present and encourage them to report don’t deter them.

Proper safety gear: Whether the company provides the safety equipment or the employee is required to purchase their own, having the proper safety gear for your specific job requirements is an essential prerequisite for performing one’s duties. Before allowing your new employee to begin their job, they a should go through a full inspection of their safety gear making sure it meets the safety requirements. 

Mentorship: While training is one of the most vital steps in preventing workplace injury in new employees, you can take safety training a step further by setting up new employees with a mentor in their department. Through this mentorship, the new employee can not only learn how to most effectively perform their job but also can learn the risks and possible dangers that they might encounter as well as how they can handle the situation. 

Even though the highest risk for workplace injuries occurs with newer employees, good safety practice and measures are important for the safety of all workers in a company, and it is the company’s responsibility to provide their employees with a safe work environment at all times.