Building an OHS Induction Program

Workplace Health and Safety Inductions are essential tools for organizations serious about meeting their obligations under workplace laws. Here are some key tips and guidelines for anyone wishing to put in place their own OHS Induction program.

Proper induction training is increasingly a legal requirement and employers have a formal duty to provide new employees with all relevant information and training relating to health and safety, particularly.

Every employer has obligations to its employees under workplace laws. In fact all people who work in the construction industry need an induction to Occupational Health and Safety before they can commence on a work site. All construction workers have a role to play in making sure that people are safe at work.

In turn there are also quite important obligations on the employees to follow safe working procedures and take reasonable precautions to prevent personal injury to themselves or to others. One of the proven ways to meet those obligations is to create an induction program that every new employee completes when they first start with the employer.

Developing Safety DocsHowever, designing an appropriate and cost-effective induction package is a complex task. The induction programme has to provide all the information that new employees and others need, and are able to assimilate, without being overwhelming or diverting them from the essential process of integration into a team. A well constructed OHS Induction Program can pay dividends for the organisation and there are some simple steps that you can take to ensure your OHS Induction is worlds best practice.

  • Agree on the outcome in mind. The term ‘induction’ is generally used to describe the whole process whereby employees adjust or acclimatise to their jobs and working environment. It’s not just orientation or socialising. The purpose of induction is to ensure the effective integration of staff into or across the organisation for the benefit of both parties. Research has shown that tailor-made induction programmes increase staff retention.
  • Make the process uniform across the whole organisation but allow for changes to be made to content. The length and nature of the induction process depends on the complexity of the job and the background of the new employee. One size does not fit all – a standardised induction course is unlikely to satisfy anyone. However there should be no tampering with the legal binding instructions such as reporting an incident.
  • Use proven adult learning techniques. There is nothing worse than pushing a new employee into a poorly designed and delivered classroom program that they find boring or ill suited to their learning style.
  • Collect, collate and report. Any successful system will have good reporting components which articulate into auditable results. Control systems must be in place to ensure that all risks are addressed and the employee signs off that they understand the information they have received. One day you might find yourself needing to prove that a certain safety policy was delivered and learnt by an employee – how will you prove that it was?
  • Seriously consider using an on-line or hosted induction program. Unless you have a large HR department at your disposal the amount of time and energy used in creating and maintaining a strong effective program can be prohibitive. Even larger organisations with more than 100 people are outsourcing their induction management now because they can deliver a uniform induction process at multiple sites. Other benefits include the employee or contractor completing some of the program before they arrive on site, no more classroom training, and low costs of changes.

Having an OHS Induction Program shows a commitment by management at the highest level. It also provides a strong compliance lever under governance obligations of the company.

Here are some things a good induction checklist should contain:

  • Details of Emergency Actions 
    – evacuation procedures
    – location of fire extinguishers
    – nearest first aid kit
    – nearest emergency exits
    – isolating switches
  • Responsibilities of the employee
    – reporting procedures
    – accident report form
  • Personal Protection Equipment
    – issue and proper fit confirmed
    – monitoring equipment
  • General Safety
    – Housekeeping
    – waste removal 
    – access 
  • Policies and Guidelines 
    – Drug and alcohol
    – Machine operation

About the Author

Safety Concepts is an online resource providing up to date insights and covering issues in the field of Workplace Safety.

Comments (2)

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  1. In this day and age, given that workplace bullying is fairly substantial health and safety issue (given a recent decision in Victoria following a prosecution by WorkSafe), the inclusion of the prevention, detection and resolution of workplace bullying should be compulsory. One of the first questions I ask of organisations “Is workplace bullying included in your induction program?” followed by “If not, why not?” and later on I will ask “How do you demonstrate your commitment to health and safety?” (after I have asked a range of other questions.

  2. Mary Laffan says:

    Yes Bernie once again i agree with you. Bullying in our society has become an issue that must be addressed at all levels and corraboratively, setting a good example in our work places is a genuine way to affirm support of bullying programs in schools and community where health and safety are at risk.

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