H&S - Induction – do you know what to do?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Recently WorkSafe NZ put out a media release about a transport operator who was fined $80,000 and ordered to pay reparations of $100,000 following the death of a contract driver. 

The investigation found that the organisation failed to undertake proper checks/tests and ensure that the driver was inducted, which included an in-cab assessment of his driving skills, ensuring he was familiar with the vehicle, and orientation into the forestry site.

This is not a discussion on this accident or court outcome, more a conversation about what an induction is and what it should include.

What is an induction?

There are different types of induction: health and safety, site, client, familiarisation with plant and equipment, and so on.
Each needs to be covered with your workers as required. An office worker will require much less information than a worker who is using heavy machinery or vehicles or moving from site to site. It might help to think about breaking the induction down into areas: health and safety, equipment, locations, customers, etc.

Basically, an induction is whatever training needs to be done so that a worker can carry out their job in a healthy and safe manner. At the very least, workers should be given some level of understanding about health and safety so that they can identify hazards and risks, and manage these. They should know what to do in the event of an accident/incident or emergency. They should also be told about their rights and responsibilities as a worker and how to participate in health and safety.

How should we deliver an induction?

If we give people too much information in one go, we will only overload them. It is better to break it into appropriate bite-sized pieces of information. We should use pictures and demonstrations as much as possible. Provide refresher training so that the worker has a good chance of remembering the information and so you know they have understood it.

The most important thing is to work at a pace that suits the worker. Do not hand masses of documentation (hard or soft copy) to a worker and tell them to read it and sign to say they understand. The chances are very high that they will not read it. Obviously they will sign to say they have; they want to work.

It’s no different from agreeing to the terms and conditions of Apple when you upgrade your iPhone! Documenting induction and training is essential. A questionnaire is great, but the worker and trainer must sign off any training.

When should you induct a worker?

Workers should be given a health and safety induction on their first day on the job. It’s a good idea to have refresher training take place two or three weeks later. Workers receive a lot of information in the first few days of work and people only remember about 20% of what they are told.

Depending on the size and type of the organisation, an induction may take an hour, half a day, a full day, or a week.

My staff are easily inducted into our health and safety system in less than half a day. They only have to understand the health and safety system, our office layout, and who is who. They are shown the operations manual and relevant sections are discussed with them. This includes covering the rules around such things as vehicle use.

Transport organisation is likely to need: A transport organisation is likely to need:

• A health and safety induction
• A site induction
• Introduction to co-workers, dispatchers, trainers, mechanics, HR, and so on
• Training on how to do a vehicle pre-check, including how to manage minor faults, how to report faults generally, where to refuel, etc.
• Familiarisation with the vehicle, including technology such as GPS, and communication systems
• In-cab assessment
• Documentation
• Route planning
• Client site inductions
• Possibly forklift and/or D endorsement training
• Any other training or information you think necessary.

Obviously, this is going to take much longer than my office-based induction.
Your induction sets the scene for your organisation’s culture. Take time with the induction, make sure the worker feels comfortable asking questions, provide supervision and a buddy for as long as necessary, and you will create a safe and productive workplace.


How can Safewise help? We are able to help update your health and safety information. For more information call Safewise (07 850 4387), check the website www.safewise.co.nz or email us at office@ safewise.co.nz tracey@safewise.co.nz or laura@safewise.co.nz

Tracey Murphy is the owner and director of Safewise Limited, a health and safety consultancy. She has more than seven years’ experience working with organisations from many different industries. Tracey holds a Diploma in Health and Safety Management and a Graduate Diploma in Occupational Safety and Health. She is a Graduate Member of New Zealand Institute of Safety Management and is the Waikato Branch Manager.