Underground Construction - November 2019 - 39

www.nassco.org

New Employees
Many of us began our careers in this industry sitting
behind a computer screen, completing whatever safety
classes were required to start working. What came
next? Usually we were handed a hard hat, then sent
out to join a crew to begin our careers, with little or no
reinforcement of what we learned about safety. It is
probably an eerily familiar scenario across the country.
With demand for qualified workers so high, we are in
such a hurry to hire someone to fill a position that we
don't stop to realize that new employees most likely
have never seen or heard about the hazards that exist
in our industry, and one exposure to these scenarios via
an online class is not enough to create the awareness
necessary to keep workers and our communities safe.
The new employee will be a part of a crew that will rely
on the new hire to keep up with production and meet
a company's goals and sadly, production sometimes
takes priority over protection.

that tests employees on certain tasks or operating
equipment. This is strongly suggested, as it also gives
these employees a certain sense of accomplishment
during their probationary period. In addition, the existing
employees should lead by example and provide a new
employee with a sense of teamwork that demands
safety be first in all aspects of daily routines.

There are many studies concerning work site accidents,
and many, if not all, seem to conclude that the majority
of accidents happen with employees who have two
years or less of employment. Interestingly, the second
most vulnerable group consists of those employees
with greater than five years employment. The data
tells us we have two primary target groups which
require more thorough training: New employees and
experienced ones. This article is designed to scratch
the surface on what can be done to eliminate these
trends and create a safer work environment.

This mentality starts to intrude into our daily routine
with some of our more seasoned employees who
don't want to go the extra few steps to ensure a proper
traffic control is setup or skip the step of monitoring
a confined space because they assume it is okay, or
they choose to not use a spotter to backup pieces
of equipment. There are hundreds of examples of
this type of behavior that we all have identified in root
cause analysis investigations. We see this and shake
our heads, asking "how did this happen?" knowing
it could have been avoided if we simply followed our
protocols. The difference is that we need to learn from
these incidents, across our industry, and apply them
in our monthly, weekly and - yes - daily safety training
processes. We must be diligently on the lookout for
unsafe behaviors associated with complacency, which
can be devastating.

One common practice is to have an existing crew
member become a mentor to a new employee. In most
industries this process is referred to as a Short Service
Employee Program. The mentor guides, protects
and becomes a resource for the new employee.
Implementing this process is the first step in attempting
to reduce historically shown tendencies for accidents.
Keep in mind, however, that the new employee will
probably be either eager to impress or not be engaged
at all. The mentor should be able to teach, while making
sure that "being eager" is not permission to perform in
an unsafe behavior.
The process should also identify this new employee
to others in the field. They need to stand out so many
employees can be on the lookout for them. One idea
is to have the new employees wear a different colored
hard hat or safety vest for the first six months or until
there is a sense of confidence that the employee has
grasped and is consistently practicing good safety
measures. This helps to identify the new employee
as someone who is still learning and may need some
guidance. Many companies also have programs

Experienced Employees
On the opposite end of the spectrum are employees
who have been around for five years or more. Logically,
you would think these employees are leaders, that
they are experienced in recognizing hazards and they
represent the industry in a positive way. Unfortunately,
the challenge we have with the experienced employee
is complacency. The mental state of "I have done this
a million times and nothing has gone wrong" can be
every bit as dangerous as the new employee who lacks
knowledge and skills.

We all have the responsibility to recognize that certain
employees - those who are new and those who have
adopted a sense of complacency -- are vulnerable
during our daily operations. In fact, we might be
one of those employees. Either way, we have the
responsibility and duty to protect ourselves and those
around us each and every day. If you do not already
have a structured Short Service Safety Program, it is
time to consider one. Concentrate on a program that
assists new employees on their beginning journey.
Stay focused on the experienced employees who
can always be reminded of the negative implications
of complacency. We all become the experienced
employee, whether we like it or not. Continually correct
what you are doing wrong or promote to others what
you are doing right! Be Safe!


http://www.nassco.org

Underground Construction - November 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Underground Construction - November 2019

Contents
Underground Construction - November 2019 - FC
Underground Construction - November 2019 - IFC
Underground Construction - November 2019 - Contents
Underground Construction - November 2019 - 4
Underground Construction - November 2019 - 5
Underground Construction - November 2019 - 6
Underground Construction - November 2019 - 7
Underground Construction - November 2019 - 8
Underground Construction - November 2019 - 9
Underground Construction - November 2019 - 10
Underground Construction - November 2019 - 11
Underground Construction - November 2019 - 12
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Underground Construction - November 2019 - IBC
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