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Limiting Your Liability for Summer Employees

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 2.3 million workers between the ages of 16-24 years of age were hired for summer employment. On average, one of these summer employees will be injured on the job every five seconds. Most of these work related injuries are both needless and costly to the employer.

The three main causes for the majority of these injuries are due to inexperience, lack of training and inadequate supervision. There are a number of proactive steps that employers can take to limit their exposure and reduce their liability.

Steps to Take Beforehand

Business owners would be wise to develop safe working practices for summer help. Here are some simple but practical steps you can employ to reduce your costs from job related injuries this summer:

  • Ask yourself what hazards the summer worker will be exposed to, including any pertinent risks outside the immediate working area.
  • Consider carefully the personnel who are to be involved in the training process and ensure they are well versed in the training procedures.
  • Always try to assign an experienced worker as a supervisor and ensure they keep a watchful eye on the summer worker over the first several days.
  • Make sure that any equipment to be used is examined and operational beforehand. Ensure that all legally required equipment safety guards are in place.

Take the Time to Give an Adequate Safety Orientation

Even before on the job training begins, give all your new staff a safety orientation. Here are some of the most important points to cover:

  • Appoint someone to act as a safety coordinator to explain the applicable federal and state safety laws.
  • The safety representative should stress and encourage new employees to ask questions about any aspect of the job they don’t understand.
  • Ensure that your summer workers do not hesitate to report unsafe conditions or hazards and to whom.
  • Stress that newly hired workers should not engage in any job activity where they haven’t been properly trained. Emphasize that they must always think safety first.
  • Inform new workers not to leave there work area unless they’ve been told to do so. Describe and show the locations of first aid kits, emergency alarms and exits, fire extinguishers, emergency alarms, eyewash stations, and how and where to obtain medical help.
  • Instruct all workers using hazardous equipment or processes to always use required protective gear such as gloves, hearing protectors, safety visors, and hard hat or safety shoes.

Provide Thorough Training

By taking the time to train your summer workers with good training techniques, you can dramatically reduce the risk of injuries. Here are few points to keep in mind:

  • Assign an experienced worker to give the worker their full attention until fully trained.
  • Provide detailed instructions on how to perform all aspects of the job and encourage them to ask questions.
  • Demonstrate how each task should be performed and repeat it until understood. Observe how the worker performs the task and correct any mistakes.
  • Teach the worker how to properly lift heavy items, use ladders safely and how to avoid injury from activities involving repetitive actions.
  • Monitor the worker’s progress in the first few days as this is the time when most injuries occur.

By being proactive in orienting your summer workers, you can greatly reduce your liability exposure to work related injuries. Training takes a little time but it’s time well spent.