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August 2009

New Employee Orientation – Delegating the Wrong Tasks

Clark Dan Written by Dan Clark

Is your new employee orientation plan as sharp as your formal training program?

Recently, while visiting a local supermarket, I asked the owner the very same question.  The question came after he and I realized that cuts and laceration claims were on a dramatic rise. Further research revealed that most of these injuries came from the combination of new employees and deli-slicing machines. I was stumped, as the supermarket had a comprehensive new hire training program.

Even more investigation revealed that the injuries were occurring during off-shifts or weekends, where the majority of new employees start out. The research found that department managers, who usually work weekdays, were delegating the responsibility of training to other associates during the off-shifts or weekends.

Typically, the supermarket’s new hire training focused on operating deli-slicers, but when delegated to an associate, critical demonstration on blade cleaning and personal protective equipment (PPE) was not covered. There were behavioral issues, as well. The associate responsible for the training gave no demonstration on safe blade cleaning, did not wear any PPE—such as cut-resistant gloves—while blade cleaning, and did not secure or unplug the power. Why? This was how the associate worked, cutting corners to save time. New employees often learn on the job by example, good or bad. 

We have often heard “they never showed me that” or “I was never told about that” from new employees after an unfortunate incident.  If you’ve delegated new employee training tasks, take the steps to ensure that clear and concise instruction is provided.  Your new employee training program may be great on paper, but may be ineffective if not delegated appropriately.

Back to School Construction—Commuters Beware

Koch Peter 2  Written by Peter Koch

The impending close to summer reared it’s ugly head earlier this week while dropping my daughter off at 6:30 AM for the first of her pre-season double session practices.  That also dredged up images of the hundreds of school buses and thousands of parents transporting kids, not to mention the scores of recently licensed drivers that will soon be competing for our attention during the morning commute. 

Combine these with the much needed repair work currently happening on our roads and a lack of planning on our part, and you have a recipe for, at best, a tardy arrival to work or speeding ticket.  You can imagine the worst case . . .

While no injury or fatality is considered good, the frequency of school bus related traffic fatalities is relatively low.  National Highway Statistics provides this brief summary of the stats relating to school bus crashes:

  • Each year, approximately 800 school-age children are killed in motor vehicle crashes during the normal school travel hours (weekday mornings and afternoons during school months). 
  • Roughly 2% of the 800 children killed are school bus related while 74% occur in private passenger vehicles and 22% are the result of pedestrian or bicycle accidents.  

What can we do to keep the grim reaper or trooper from the rear view mirror?  Start with a good plan:

  1. Know your route – Be aware of any planned or current construction along your way.  Using web resources such as Trafficinfo, Rand McNally, or a local city website can help identify areas where delays are likely.
  2. Leave early – Be sure to leave enough time to account for any known construction delays or school bus stops along the way.  Usually 30 minutes is enough, but more may be necessary depending on where you live.  If you get there ahead of time you can catch up on your email and text messages.
  3. Stay visible – Stop far enough back for the bus driver to see you in their mirror and use your hazards when stopped for a bus, giving notice to any drivers behind you.
  4.  Avoid distraction – It’s not the phone, it’s the conversation.  Refrain from using cell phones while driving in school zones or areas with children. The same goes for activities that distract the driver, such as changing CDs, looking at notes and reading maps.

The following sites provide additional tips and strategies for avoiding tragedy on you morning commute this fall:

What Drives You?

DSC05372   Posted by Randy Klatt

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, transportation accidents were the most common manner in which workplace fatalities occurred in 2007 (31%).  For those employers who operate a fleet of vehicles, or even simply ask employees to conduct company business in their own vehicles, this statistic presents a significant risk. 

What can you do to help protect your employees, or yourself, when operating a motor vehicle?  You can start by ensuring you have a Fleet Policy and Procedures Program in place, which includes the following:

  • Vehicles are regularly inspected to ensure proper mechanical condition and regularly scheduled maintenance occurs.
  • All drivers are required to maintain good driving records and that those records are checked at least annually.  This also requires criteria be set to establish what is an acceptable record and what is not. 
  • A cell phone usage policy that prohibits making calls while driving.  It is also recommended that incoming calls be allowed to go to voice mail, or answered only with a hands-free device and that the driver should pull over in a safe location whenever possible.  The use of other electronic devices such as e-mail or texting is prohibited. 
  • Any moving violations or collisions must be reported, investigated, and any corrective or disciplinary actions taken in a timely manner.
  • 100% seatbelt use—no exceptions.

These are the basics—your plan may be more specific. 

If you do not have a Fleet Policy, there are resources available to help you create one. MEMIC’s Safety Director has sample policies listed. The National Transportation Safety Board, National Safety Council, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are filled with laws, policies, and statistics to help guide you in creating your policy.

The bottom line is driving is a hazardous activity. Employers must take responsibility and recognize the hazard, doing all they can to ensure only the safest drivers are behind the wheel.  Let’s all be sure that safety is what is driving us!