Training has taken on new importance as understaffed employers turn to hiring inexperienced workers. We’ve all seen first-hand how it’s affecting business and customer service. Fast food is no longer fast, deliveries are wrong or don’t come at all, and our flights are delayed.
Those annoyances are a problem, yes, but inexperience can be downright dangerous, too. Workers in environments like warehouses, manufacturing facilities, and construction sites face increased risks.
“According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, new workers are five times more likely to be injured on the job than their more experienced counterparts. 40% of all injuries involve people who have been on the job for less than one year and, in fact, one in eight injuries happen on an employee’s first day,” explains John Braun, an owner and the CEO of Signature Safety, an EHS consulting firm.
Why So Many Inexperienced Workers?
Lately, hiring inexperienced workers has become a stark reality. In the past year, hiring has been fast and furious, with too few experienced candidates in the pool. The Wall Street Journal reports that executives in some industries admit that, for this reason, hiring exceeded training capacity.
“An increase in retirements during the pandemic and a rise in worker absences due to Covid-19 cases and summer vacations [didn’t help],” WSJ adds. Those same executives said new employees are quitting at higher rates than tenured workers, adding to turnover and demand for training. “And many Americans are switching industries and careers, so more people are acclimating to new roles.”
Getting Inexperienced Workers Up to Speed
It can be a real positive to employ people who are new to the workforce or have been given the opportunity to be employed in a job they may not have been considered for in a different job market. But it comes with responsibility.
OSHA wears two hats when it comes to regulating the training of inexperienced workers:
First, when hiring directly, be sure to follow OSHA’s standards for providing a safe workplace. That includes conducting safety training applicable to the job and in a language and vocabulary the worker can understand.
Second, it’s important to note that temporary workers have their own set of rights as they relate to OSHA. Temporary workers are often employed jointly through both the employer and a staffing agency. Those two parties hold joint responsibility for providing and maintaining a safe work environment for these workers.
“When you work with a reputable staffing agency, they take training and safety very seriously because their reputation with OSHA is also on the line,” says Stephanie Grubbs, Regional Managing Director for The HT Group’s Staffing Division. “To that end, we will work closely with our host employers to ensure that temporary workers are adequately trained and ready to do the job safely and effectively.”
According to OSHA, keeping temporary, inexperienced workers safe comes down to communication between the agency and the host to ensure that the necessary protections are provided.
Staffing agencies should:
- Inquire into the conditions of their workers’ assigned workplaces.
- Determine what conditions exist at the host location, what hazards may be encountered, and how best to ensure protection for the temporary workers.
- Verify that the host has fulfilled its responsibilities for a safe workplace and treats temporary workers like any other workers regarding training, safety, and health protections.
“If you work with a staffing agency that doesn’t acknowledge or know these principles well, walk away,” Grubbs cautions. “It’s not worth the risks to your business or your workers’ safety to overlook the warning signs.”