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Gearing Up for Summer: Induction plans and annual reviews

Summer’s not far away. Preparing your induction process now is a great way to ensure your health and safety is up to date and you are ready to hit the ground running!

Use your annual review to write your worker induction plan.

As I sit on my balcony in my t-shirt enjoying my coffee and another glorious Paihia morning, I get the sense spring isn’t far away. That usually means we’re in for another about of serious winter weather, but nonetheless, spring is just two weeks away and I’m enjoying the sunshine today!

While the winter operators are in the throws of another busy post covid season, many of the summer operators will hopefully now have had some time to regroup and are starting to think about the season ahead. One of the key challenges the industry faced last season was recruitment. This left business owners and managers battling away at the coal face, struggling to get things done, and unable to work on the business. Across the industry I saw burnt out teams and stressed-out business owners. One of the ways owners and managers can reduce this stress is by ensuring they use the next 6-8 weeks to prepare for induction and training.

Thinking about how new workers should be inducted enables business owners to consider the wider risks in the business and also allows them to think about the safety culture they wish to instil. A robust induction program sets the tone for the workplace culture. It also ensures legal obligations have been met.

What should an induction process look like?

Emergency procedures

While we plan to make sure events don’t happen, sometimes they do. When they do we need to be prepared. Ensuring your new workers are familiar with your emergency procedures is a legal requirement. This should be one of the first training elements when workers are onboarded. The GRWM Regulations stipulate that workers should be trained in emergency procedures. Think about scheduling emergency procedure training for all of the team once you have recruited your new workers and before the summer season kicks into full gear. This is a great way to review your emergency procedures and ensure they are fit for purpose.

Risk management

The first thing to consider is what are the things that are going to hurt them or others. In order to ensure this content is up to date and current, we need to review our risk register. Reviewing a risk register is more than a cursory glance at a spreadsheet. Look at the risk through the lens of a new employee. Are those risks really safe, or are they just familiar? Has my risk register been updated in the past 12 months? What are the new risks that have been identified? If there aren’t any new risks is it because we are in a really stable environment, or is it because it hasn’t been on the radar and the team aren’t that engaged? Did we identify any new risks by reviewing incidents? Were there any patterns or recurring events? Did my team report incidents? If there are few incidents reported, is that reflecting an effective system or a culture of underreporting? If I review my first aid kit restocks and compare to my incident register, do they align? Have I supplied dozens of plaster but never a recorded cut? If there is a culture of underreporting, what am I going to do in the induction process to stress the importance, and how am I going to get my existing team onboard.

SOP’s

Now I have determined the main risks, I need to think about how I’m going to teach my new workers how we manage risk and complete tasks safely. So what will that process look like? It’s important your system catches your activity, many small businesses rely on one-to-one coaching and while staff are inducted, there is little evidence to support that process took place. I once ran a business rolling people down hills in a large inflatable ball. When I took over the reigns I asked the team to write down what they did from leaving the base to launching a guest down the hill. The response was, “do you want us to write down what we do do, or what we are supposed to do. That was exactly what I was looking for. Concise SOP’s ensure all of the steps are outlined and there are no gaps in the training, and you are able to embed your culture and values in to the training. Review what you do and why you do it that way. Is it just done that way because ‘we’ve always done it that way’, or because it’s genuinely the best way to do. Review your SOP’s. Do they still reflect what you do in action? Bring in your existing team and have a discussion and get feedback on your systems. If reviewing your SOP’s is a really laborious task, you’ve used too many words! SOP’s should be concise and written for the user, text heavy documents are generally less effective.

Tips for inducting new staff to your Safety Management System.

  • Do it on day one! Get the paperwork squared away, start with emergency procedures, then talk about prominent and common risks and ‘how we manage them’.  People can have accidents at anytime, and they are more likely to happen to new workers. So ensure you can demonstrate you have inducted them.
  • Keep a record. Records should be specific e.g. identify specific risks and include a break down of the SMS.
  • Include knowledge tests. Signing a piece of paper along with 20 other signatures on the front of the health and safety manual really doesn’t cut the mustard. There is no evidence to demonstrate the learning process took place. Including a series of basic health and safety questions will demonstrate learning took place. e.g. You might ask a question like “when is it ok to consume alcohol on the job”. You now specifically have verification from the work that they are aware they cannot consume alcohol at work. This can offer additional support if you should happen to have HR matters to manage.
  • Get an existing staff member to test the induction process. Does it line up with what we do? If not, why not?

Preparing your health and safety induction plan in advance will allow you to focus on building your team and supporting them in delivering a world class visitor experience. You will have reviewed your risks, emergency procedures and SOP’s. You will have got a sense of your worker engagement with reporting, and engaged your existing workers by getting their input. Building effective workplace cultures is about starting off on the right foot. As the business owner, you lead the way!