I was lucky enough to use my frequent flyer pass to board early on the morning flight to Vegas this past weekend. It gave me the opportunity to settle in and "people watch" for a bit and I noticed that a number of my seatmates were quite young, students probably, looking for a few days of fun before beginning their summer jobs. I thought about what kind of work they would be engaging in over the months ahead. Some would perhaps be working in their chosen field while others would be entering an occupation or organization completely unfamiliar. This is North American Occupational Safety and Health Week (NAOSH) and the theme this year is "Making it home safely at the end of each work week". I pondered the challenges and responsibilities that come with hiring a student. For many students, this may be their first "real" job and the pressure and anxiety is enormous. But for the business, the pressure may be equal considering the risk of a new hire and the legislation governing health and safety. What experienced workers may take for granted: mopping up spills immediately, washing hands, the correct lifting of boxes, many new and young workers will need to be taught. Experienced or seasoned employees may become complacent in their attention to health and safety but we need to remind them to be aware of the importance of safety when training or mentoring youth.
Remembering that a team is only as strong as it's weakest link, taking some time with new employees to emphasize the company's commitment to health and safety, outlining individual responsibilities, and making safety procedures available and visible will contribute to the health and safety of all. In any occupation, taking time to stretch, making time for refreshment and reducing stress are important. Supervisory oversight is probably the most imporant factor, and encouraging new employees in the reporting of worksite hazards or injuries develops a personal responsibility mindset that will reduce liability and accidents. Let's all make it home safely at the end of the work week.