Another Tragedy Shows Vulnerability of New Workers

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Study after study has shown that workers are most vulnerable to being injured on the job when they’re new and unfamiliar with the hazards, equipment and operations in the workplace.

But statistics aren’t always compelling and may not be enough to drive change. Instead, consider a tragedy from New Zealand, which shows exactly how vulnerable new workers are.

As reported by WorkSafe New Zealand, a logging transport operator was fined $80,000 and ordered to pay reparations of $100,000 in relation to the death of a worker who was fatally run over—on his very first day on the job.

The worker was driving a truck and trailer unit, transporting logs. While the truck was still moving, he exited the cab and got caught under the truck’s rear wheel, suffering fatal injuries.

Under New Zealand’s workplace safety laws, employers and principals have an obligation to ensure that all persons who enter a forest are either competent or are undergoing supervised training.

A WorkSafe New Zealand investigation found that the employer’s principal had failed to undertake proper checks/tests and to ensure that the worker was properly oriented, which included undertaking an in-cab assessment of his driving skills, ensuring he was familiar with the vehicle and giving him an orientation on the forestry site.

WorkSafe Chief Inspector Keith Stewart says this case clearly shows why adequate training and orientation processes are vital in helping keep workers safe, noting “This was a tragic example of what can happen when training is not provided.”

Sadly, this case isn’t an isolated incident. Here’s another example of a worker who died on his first day on the job.

The OHS Insider has many resources that can help you better protect these vulnerable workers, including:

In addition, sign up for our rescheduled webinar to learn more about how to better protect new (and young) workers. In this free webinar, which will now be held on Aug. 17, 2016, OHS consultant Yvonne O’Reilly will discuss practical steps for implementing a safety awareness program for new and young workers. Register now for this one-hour session.