Site Safety Orientations
Whenever new employees start at your company, they need to be made aware of the hazards, policies and other important safety information. The right to know is one of the three basic safety rights in all provinces and by doing a safety orientation at the time of hire, you can ensure that all employees know what is expected of them and how to do their job safely. However, different work sites will have different hazards. This is why site safety orientations are so important, not just for staff, but for contractors and visitors as well.
A site safety orientation will be similar regardless of the type of industry. They all should cover the emergency procedures that need to be followed, the personal protective equipment that is required, accident reporting and an overview of the site owner’s or general contractor’s safety policies. By reviewing the policies that exist by the organization that is in charge of the site, and who deal with that hazards on a regular basis (i.e. a plant or other permanent location) or have overall control of all employed on the site (i.e. a general contractor in construction), visitors and contractors will know what is expected of them.
Emergency procedures are definitely an important subject. The orientation should cover what alarm signal is used, where the exits are and where the muster points are. One general contractor I worked for had a code set up for the air horns on site. One long blast meant to evacuate the building. Three short blasts meant there was an injury and all first aiders were to report to the area the horn was coming from.
Accidents need to be reported appropriately. By explaining how they are to be reported and who they are to be reported to, both the emergency response and the paperwork required by workers’ compensation can be filled out correctly. Letting the site supervisor or manager know that a worker was hurt, where they were hurt, and the details of the injury can ensure that when emergency responders arrive they know where they are to go.
Contact information is also part of the orientation. When contractors and visitors are at a plant or existing facility, they will usually have an escort, usually someone from the maintenance department, with them. On those occasions when they don’t, they should give their cellular phone numbers and other information, such as an emergency contact. The site manager or other appropriate employee should give the visitor of contractor their information. On construction sites, it is a good practice to have the contact information posted at various areas, such as near fire extinguishers so that any sub-contractor on site can easily access it.
Who needs a Site Orientation?
Anyone who is not a regular employee and will be at the site for more than an hour should receive an orientation of what they should expect and what is expected of them regarding safety. Visitors to the site who are not performing work, such as anyone at the site for a meeting but will be passing through the main work area should receive an orientation so they know what they need to be in that area, such as personal protective equipment.
Contractors should have an orientation so they know what the company in charge of the site expects from them while they are working at that location. This may even be specific to a tenant renting space in a building. I was working as a technician’s assistant years ago in a building that had the Atlantic Regional Office for a major oil company. They had a requirement that whenever a ladder was set up in their office space, cones were to be set up on either side. Is another example, a mining company had a requirement that workers were to tie off at six feet instead of ten. Orientations are what allow important information like this to be presented.
No matter how site safety orientations are done, they need to cover all the relevant information needed by the workers on the site. The hazards and risks on a site should detail the amount of information covered. Most construction sites are going to be the same in terms of the hazards that exist. Some general contractors do have longer orientations because of some projects are larger and have more hazards.
Nova Scotia Power had the most detailed orientation I have received, either as a safety coordinator or as a technician’s assistant. It covered everything in detail, took about an hour and finished with an exam. They also provided a contractors’ safety handbook for us to refer to. This was for working in one of their power plants, so the hazards were really high in this facility.
Site safety orientations should be an important part of the safety program of all general contractors and any plant or similar building. By explaining to workers what to expect for hazards and what is expected of them in terms of their conduct on the site, they can help to reduce accidents. Visitors, contractors and sub-contractors who go to the site should hope to receive a safety orientation so they know what to do and where to go in emergencies, and what they can do to protect themselves while at the site. By doing site safety orientations, organizations who are responsible for a site can prove their due diligence and help all worker plan to stay safe.