Hiring employees with a keen understanding for safety protocols is the first step in creating a workforce that experiences fewer accidents and injuries. When employees keep safety on the forefront of their minds, they can reduce potential hazards before they occur. This can help keep worker’s compensation insurance premiums low and prevent safety violations and citations from being issued.
Many employers devote a lot of time and money into creating employee safety programs and training to reduce cost. But, employers should go one step further in implementing safe practices throughout the workplace. By identifying safe workers through the hiring process, employers can cultivate a safer, more effective workforce.
One thing to consider early in the hiring process is how job candidates are referred to the organization. Are they hired directly from the open market, a labor union, a staffing agency, or a labor contractor? The quality of the potential candidate is dependent on what jobs they have held previously and the amount of safety training they’ve had prior to coming to your organization. Labor unions, staffing agencies, and contractors can sometimes provide additional information about a candidate than what is presented on a resume.
It is important that the hiring manager in charge of making candidate decisions is someone who understands what to look for. The best results typically come from a team effort that includes a senior level human resources professional and an operations manager. An organization’s operations manager knows the job and understands the safety issues. They are able to screen candidates and select only those who have obtained specific types of safety training or equipment certifications. When hiring for safety, an inexperienced recruiter with little knowledge of the job or safety issues will not always be able to select the most safety-focused candidate.
The job description serves as a valuable tool during the marketing of the position. A good job description not only highlights job tasks and requirements, but also emphasizes safety. Employers can weave their safety message and safety culture into the job description. An accurate description of the position duties and requirements are needed, but a job that sounds challenging with a high expectation for employee safety will limit the candidate pool to only those truly qualified and dedicated to safety.
During the interview process, employers should ask questions regarding safety trainings or certifications. Discuss the candidate’s experience with equipment, past work history, and ask for references from previous supervisors and managers. Consider testing candidates on specific skills or task simulations, which can show whether they have the skill and inclination to perform the job in a safe manner or not.
Follow up interviews with reference checks, background checks, and drug screenings. These screenings may help to reveal which job candidates are more likely to be unsafe in the workplace. Dedicating a little extra time to the hiring process can lead to selecting safer employees. Creating a safe workplace through the hiring process builds safety culture and may reduce operating costs. Most importantly, an employee pool that is dedicated to safety ensures everyone goes home alive.
For more information on hiring for safety, ASSE has published a comprehensive guide that can be found by clicking here.