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Hiring Summer Help? Give Them a Good Start

The old saying “It doesn’t matter how you start, it’s how you finish that counts”. Well in life summer helpterms that is probably true. The other side of this conversation however is, “It does matter how you start”. This is the season for short term employees, specifically “Summer Help” it’s almost a tradition. It gives students a chance to make some money to help fund their education, or that car they need to get back and forth from home to school. It also reminds them of the reasons they are in school, so that by Labor Day they go back to school with a renewed sense of purpose. At the same time we also want to send them back with all of their fingers, toes, eyes, hands and feet. So it’s imperative that when they are hired we start them off with the proper safety orientation.

As a student, in a different lifetime, I worked in a variety of jobs, which added to my life experience. I was a custodial worker, grounds keeper, grocery clerk and manager, hamburger flipper, and painter. As a custodial worker I learned the fine art of stripping sealing and waxing floors, moving and stacking chairs and desks @$1.10 per hour. To be honest learning how to use a floor machine, or swing machine as some call it, was a bit of a challenge. I didn’t have much guidance and it’s not as easy as it looks especially on a slippery floor. A broken chair and a chewed up electrical cord later I was good to go. Yes of course I learned how to clean bathrooms as well and the chemicals that went with it. Not much hazcom, or “Right to know” training there either. I took some of these skills with me when I worked in the grocery store. There were some new hazards I quickly understood for example, the proper use of a box cutter. Today I tell my own children, that, if worse comes to worse, they can identify me by the scar on my left index finger planted there by the errant use of a box cutter. My point in all of this in moving forward, is that today there are several opportunities including construction, or manufacturing, for young adults to not only add to their resume and life skills, but for employers to give them the necessary tools to learn how to manage their work safely with proper training, and to take that lesson with them wherever they go as well.

Employers do have a responsibility according the OSHA’s general duty clause (Pub. Law 91-596 Section5(a)(1)) to provide their employees with a safe place to work as free from recognized hazards as is reasonable, and prudent. Employers must point out the hazards and train in how to recognize and avoid them during the course of the workday. This will also include the use proper PPE as well. The general duty clause covers hazardous conditions or practices not covered by an OSHA standard. There is so much more information available today than there ever was before, so give your summer help the training, and confidence they need to do the work safely and properly so you can send them back to school better than they came to you. Safety Orientation is good for everybody.

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