Safe for work: 10 employee screening tips to reduce your risk
By Donna Frost, Senior Safety Consultant
Nearly half the claims Pinnacol processes stem from employees who have been on the job less than 12 months.
That’s a stunningly high number, and it underscores the importance of screening potential workers before hiring them.
By using proven interview and testing techniques, you can find the best person for the job and maintain your high safety standards. Though screening doesn’t guarantee your newest hire will avoid a slip, trip and fall injury, it may help you identify people who pose less risk to your business.
Donna Frost, a safety consultant for Pinnacol, provides 10 tips for employee screening before, during and after the interview to help protect your business.
- Scan the interviewing area. Remember that first impressions do give potential employees a look into your safety culture. For example: How safe is the approach to your organization’s interviewing area? Are there employees standing on chairs while putting up safety posters? Ensure that wherever you interview potential employees, the environment reflects the safety culture of your organization.
- Consider adopting integrity testing. Integrity screening is administered pre-interview, enabling hiring managers to avoid wasting time in further vetting candidates engaged in high-risk activities such as drug and alcohol abuse, theft, hostile behavior or lying. Lack of honesty has been linked to violence and disciplinary issues, two major threats to your company’s safety.
- Provide job demonstrations. Showing people what they would be doing on the job weeds out candidates ill-prepared for the physical or mental demands of a position, such as lifting a certain amount of weight, or working in a dusty or noisy environment. Make certain the person demonstrating the job is wearing the proper personal protective equipment (PPE). If you are going to have potential employees demonstrate their skills to you, ensure they have the proper PPE.
- Ask about safety policies or rules at previous jobs. If a prospective employee can’t name any safety policies or rolls his or her eyes in response, that may tell you a lot about the applicant’s attitude toward safety. For entry-level employees coming directly from high school, Frost says, inquire about school safety policies and procedures instead.
- Put the right person in charge of screening and interviewing. You want to demonstrate the importance of safety in your company. “Make sure the person has a good safety record and supports the safety mission of your organization,” Frost says.
- Have a job description with essential functions. Let people know what they are applying for and what the job entails physically and mentally. Make sure your essential functions are well thought out and legally defensible.
- Rethink post-offer tools. Drug tests, long a standard pre-employment practice, have come under scrutiny since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana usage. If a job requires manual dexterity or good concentration, or requires a screening (such as a CDL driver), drug testing will still be necessary. Don’t forget that during the post-offer period, you can verify DMV records and workers’ compensation history, conduct background checks and determine range of motion, too.
- Work with HR. In many small companies, human resources and risk management are one and the same, but if you have an HR department, consult on ways to lower risks, such as:
- Holding new-employee orientations prior to introducing new hires into their departments
- Conducting monthly safety trainings
- Offering on-the-job mentoring programs
9. Keep in touch after the hire. Screening doesn’t end after hiring someone, Frost cautions. Arrange for 30-, 60- and 90-day check-ins to gauge on-the-job safety and address concerns that arise — on both sides.
10. Review internal applicants. Don’t forget to review your internal transfer and applicant policy, and check for safety involvement with your internal hires.