The 3 Questions to Ask to Keep Your Seasonal Staff Safe
As American Thanksgiving rapidly approaches, it traditionally marks the beginning of the Holiday Season, taking the retail sector and service industry into their busiest time of the year and Canada is no exception. In order to meet consumer demands extra manpower may be necessary whether it is through seasonal hires, increased shifts/hours of existing employees and/or switching staff into different areas or positions. As a result, the risk of workplace accident and injury increases.
Seasonal employment may involve groups of workers hired at the same time, a steady stream of new recruits or a just a couple of individuals required to complement existing staff. It may require staffing a completely seasonal business where there is no existing or experienced staff.
Seasonal workers are often young and/or inexperienced, and for many it is their first job and exposure to a workplace. Others see seasonal work as an opportunity to supplement their income by picking up a second or third job and despite having experience in the workforce, they are unfamiliar with their new roles. And with no real future for seasonal positions, there is a lack of job attachment or commitment that results in high turnover.
All of this contributes to an increase in safety risks and hazards in the workplace.
Workplace Safety Concerns
For seasonal and seasoned employees alike, training is frequently condensed, incomplete or non-existent as they jump into their new positions and ‘learn on the fly’. Too often, there is neither the time nor the resources to provide proper explanation and instruction on how to get the job done. Inexperience and lack of training, in and of itself, is a safety hazard, but combine it with the pressure of meeting employment expectations by taking short cuts, rushing to complete tasks, and/or skipping important steps can create a near perfect storm for workplace accidents.
For part time and casual workers, an increase in work hours may be a welcome financial bonus, however the change to their schedule also becomes a hazard. Although they may be familiar with the aspects and expectations of their job, the longer, busier shifts, increased hours and stress can result in fatigue and exhaustion while they get accustomed to the new pace. This adds yet another dimension to the safety risks this time of year and even full-time employees are subject to the impact of seasonal work pressures.
As much as the there are easily identifiable hazards associated with inexperience, lack of training, increased workloads, fatigue and pressure to produce, the holiday season presents its own unique set of stressors. Balancing all the holiday parties, plans, preparations, activities and obligations while keeping track of ‘to-do’ lists can be distracting. The increase in colds, flus and other sickness can interfere with the ability to perform to standard, while travelling to and from work in inclement weather and just getting accustomed to wintry conditions have an impact.
The holidays are stressful enough without the additional challenges, complications and costs of dealing with a work related injury. As an employer, keep in mind that the time you take now to review, remind and enforce safety awareness with your all your staff could save you plenty of time and money in workers’ compensation later.
Asking employees to assess their surroundings for safety hazards regularly throughout the day can help reduce the risk of accidents. When they first arrive at work, when they go on breaks, before lunch, returning from lunch and before they leave for the day, here are three simple questions your staff can ask themselves that will improve workplace safety:
- Am I safe?
- Are my co-workers safe?
- Is there anything I could do to be safer?
They say it’s the most wonderful time of the year, make sure it is!
If you would like to discuss seasonal safety concerns further, you can contact us directly at BCL.Calgary@bclconsulting.ca, BCL.Edmonton@bclconsulting.ca, by phone, at 1-844-377-9545 or you can connect with us on Facebook ,Twitter , or LinkedIn.