MRO Magazine

Orientation for new and young workers

March 26, 2024 | By The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)

Warehouse manager assesses individual performance of staff. Evaluate work quality, skill levels, improvement needs. Giving guidance and direction. Identifying competency gaps, creating an action plan

Photo: © SpaceOak / Adobe Stock

While young workers are busy thinking about starting their new summer jobs and others are re-joining the workforce, they may not realize that their “newness” could affect their safety and health. As an employer, you have the responsibility to create and foster a safe and healthy work environment to protect all your workers. Make sure you have a comprehensive orientation program in place and communicate the importance of health and safety roles and responsibilities to your new workers. Providing the right orientation sets the tone for the workplace and ensures that your workers are starting on safe footing.

New workers and young workers

New workers are different from young workers in that they are not necessarily entering the workforce for the first time. They could be returning to work after an absence such as a health-related leave or an injury, and it’s possible that conditions and procedures have changed. Or they could be working for the same company, but in a new role or location. As a result, they may be facing new hazards for which they are not prepared or adequately trained. These workers should also participate in the orientation program and have an opportunity to review and discuss their work, ask any questions, and receive appropriate training.

Get started with an orientation


Health and safety education starts with orientation when a person joins the organization or is transferred to a new job. Orientation sessions typically introduce workers to the function of the work unit, organizational relationships, administrative arrangements. They should also introduce your workplace’s health and safety policies and rules, what to do in an emergency, and who workers can contact if they have questions or concerns, such as their supervisor and health and safety representative or committee. You must also cover the occupational health and safety laws that apply to the worker and the work being done, as well as the rights and responsibilities of the employer, manager, and workers.


Timely and effective training is also essential when starting a new job. Arrange for hands-on or simulation training before starting the actual task, mentoring by experienced workers, or apprentice programs. Provide written safe work procedures that are clear, concise, and written in an active voice. Allow practice time and opportunity for workers to ask questions and obtain feedback. Don’t forget to clearly and frequently communicate with the worker about their job tasks and repeat and confirm this training over the first few weeks of work and as needed.

Include both physical and psychosocial hazards in your training. For example, show and allow workers to practice how to safely operate equipment and tools such as fryers or mixers, how to conduct safe lifts, how to work safely with cleaning chemicals or other products, the affects of a noisy work environment, as well as how to respond to harassment, or threats while ensuring their own safety.  

Providing training and extra assistance during the initial period of employment is critical, regardless of age, as they are not familiar with the hazards of the job or the workplace. During this period, workers develop the knowledge, skills, and abilities that are necessary to work safely. While training for new workers is always important, it should also be provided when they are transferred to jobs or work areas, they are unfamiliar with, or returning from an extended period away from work.

Not all training can or should be held on the first day. Time sessions to best match the needs of the workplace, the information being shared, and the tasks being done, but be sure all relevant areas and topics are covered before the worker is asked to perform a task. 

Employers have an important role in helping any new worker – regardless of age – stay safe on the job. Making time for training that is specific and relevant and keeping the training dialogue open and ongoing will go a long way to protecting your workers from harm. 


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