Whenever a new employee starts work, it is common practice to put them through an induction process to ensure that they are properly trained to carry out their job both safely and efficiently. However, businesses often neglect to do the same for volunteers and other people who may be visiting their workplaces, but they shouldn’t!
It is important to ensure that anybody visiting a workplace is safe, especially in industries prone to elevated risk such as construction or manufacturing.
What is an induction?
Firstly, it is important to know what we mean by induction. Though we have explained induction in greater detail here, a general explanation is this: Induction is a new employee’s introduction to a business and a new role, one that aims to help them carry out their new role as effectively and as safely as possible. The information required by an individual during an induction will differ depending on their role.
What is your volunteers policy?
From time to time, you may have volunteers in your workplace and, though they may be offering their time for free, that does not mean that they should be treated any differently from paid employees when it comes to taking responsibility for their health and safety in the workplace. Inducting visitors and volunteers is an important part of their on-boarding.
You cannot expect volunteers to behave in the same responsible and safe manner you would expect of your employees if you do not take the time and effort to explain what your company’s rules and safety precautions are, just as you did with your paid workers. A volunteer’s safety is just as important as that of your employees.
The most efficient way to do so is to put all your volunteers through an induction process. It may be the same one used for paid employees, or you may prefer to create a modified version that excludes portions that are irrelevant to the volunteer’s tasks.
Some of the key points to cover are:
- Fire safety training including where the nearest fire exits are located and how to identify the fire alarm.
- General workplace safety issues, such as what type of protective clothing to wear and any other precautions that need be taken.
- Chemical safety training, where appropriate, including any cleaning materials that are used.
- Computer station training, including how to safely adjust the height of chairs and information about how often breaks from the screen are advised.
- Any Codes of Conduct for the workplace including expected behaviour standards and dress code.
- An outline of company policies including breaks, telephone usage and expenses.
- A tour of the workplace including introductions to key members of staff, especially those in a supervisory role.
- An outline of the procedures to follow and people to contact in the event of any workplace issues such as harassment or bullying.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and the areas that you wish to cover will depend on your individual workplace and the volunteers’ roles, however, it does give you a clear idea of what you need to think about including in any volunteer induction sessions you may (and should) be considering.
What about visitors?
Since volunteers are actually carrying out work on the premises, it is easy to see why they need to be included in your induction process, but what about those people who are visiting your workplace?
You may not realise it, but induction, albeit a brief one, is also sometimes necessary for these individuals as well, especially if your place of work is in a high-risk environment such as an active construction site or a factory which uses heavy machinery.
Even if a visitor is not going to be using any equipment, you are still responsible for their safety and that means explaining any precautions that they need to take in order to protect themselves.
This may be something as simple as ensuring they wear protective headgear while on site, or how to hit the emergency stop on any machinery they may have to operate or that is located in close proximity to them.
You may find you can recycle much of the material from your employee and volunteer inductions, things such as fire safety and general safety in the workplace, when creating an induction for visitors.
However, it is important to remember that visitors will only have short-term access to the workplace, so keep it brief and stick to what is important for ensuring their safety while on your premises.