Sheq inductions are tools to maintain your Sheq culture, and to prevent incidents. It is easy to get it right… or wrong.
The objective of Sheq induction is to introduce new employees to their work environment, and to the organisation’s culture. It is also an occupational health and safety legal obligation.
No employer wants employees to get injured or fall ill at work, or to transgress procedures. Induction is as important to both parties, as the contract of employment, writes Johan Dempers.
Yet some employers just go through the motions to fill in a tickbox. The importance of formal occupational health, safety and environment, or Sheq induction, are generally underestimated and misunderstood.
Certain topics are essential to cover. Here are some of the important elements in an induction presentation:
• Emergency procedures
• Safety and company rules
• Hazards and risks, in particular those typical to the operation and the tasks
• Chain of command, and an introduction to Safety Reps, First Aiders, Emergency Coordinators, and Supervisors.
• Company Policies.
Induction should be done before any employee starts work; right after the employment contracts are signed.
Induction should be repeated after Christmas holidays, on the first day before work starts in the new year, particularly in industries with a long holiday, as in construction, mining, and some manufacturing sectors.
Visitors should also be inducted when entering the site, at least into site rules. Visitors should be escorted by an employee designated and familiar with Sheq hazards and risks.
Contractors and other suppliers, including delivery people, should also be inducted before they enter the site. Areas out of bounds for the public or visitors, should be demarcated with signage.
Update your induction twice a year
Induction should be updated from time to time, and re-presented to the whole work force, once or twice annually.
You should have long and a short versions of the general induction, to which supervisors and managers would add their own inductions, depending on the site and the job.
Induction is an opportunity for management to engage with new employees on an equal level. Sheq is everyone’s responsibility.
This is an opportunity to sell company values and ethics to the work force. In South Africa it a privilege to be employed if one considers the high unemployment rate and general poverty.
From experience I have learned that all people need recognition. Everybody, from the highly qualified to the lowest skilled, need assurance that their contributions and efforts have value to the team.
If you are hurt, injured or incapacitated, the pain and consequences are the same, and the consequences to the organisation are the same, regardless of job title or pay scale of the people directly involved.
Occupational health and safety is implemented to prevent harm to all at work. Government, organised labour, and business all want social upliftment. Incidents and injuries only increase loss and poverty.
Talk shop floor language
Your various induction presentations must address the level of skill and sophistication of different groups of employees. The approach should be in line with the target audience.
Break the language barrier by using translators, and invite questions to check whether the presenter and the audience understand one another.
Feedback allows buy-in and engagement. Recorded inductions are one-way media, but you could add a questionnaire and a suggestion box at the replay, for new employees and visitors to comment and query.
Health and safety does not stop when the workers knock off. Awareness of hazards and risk in public and at home is also vital to sustain workplace culture.
Some new employees were unemployed, or informally employed before. They need induction into the corporate world.
This is a huge experience for them. A good approach is to explain rights and obligations, and to congratulate employees on joining the team, and on taking charge of their own health and safety.
Spell out the required behaviour, and good and bad consequences. Explain the short and long term importance of health, safety, environment, and the value of preventing incidents, including ‘slow poisons’ such as hearing loss.
Personal appearances by the top executives and CEO, and their visible involvement in Sheq, are very important to organisational culture.
Coach your Sheq leaders at all levels
Induction is one of the tools to raise awareness, and to empower employees to take responsibility for their actions, and be active in preventing incidents at work.
Health and safety management success rely on behaviour. People tend to behave the way that they believe management expects them to.
Take care to communicate the organisation’s expectations in detail, and to demonstrate that everyone aspire to follow those expectations.
Appoint Sheq coaches in the departments or sites. Train some of your managers, Sheq people, and supervisors as coaches, or call in a third party coach to facilitate an induction update, and to get the Sheq coaching ball rolling.
This will go a long way to demonstrate the commitment of the organisation to Sheq. Copaching will not be seen as a Sheq officer imposing unwanted rules, but as part and parcel of work.
Induction can play a vital role to activate and to sustain worker and public perceptions about your workplace and your organisation.
Induction is also one of the elements of self-esteem of employees, the employer, and the society you do business in, and live in.
Every employer must be made aware of the contributions they could make to prevent incidents, and should be made aware that their contributions are valued.
About the author: Johan Dempers (MDP UFS, NEBOSH IGC), has 30 years of experience as Sheq consultant in various industries, including telecommunications, work at height, rail, and local authorities.
He is the general manager of the Cygma Sheq Free State franchise. Email or call 083 679 8554.