Employee orientation and guidance

Orientation and guidance are the best forms of proactive safety operations. Inadequate work guidance is a common cause of accidents at work. The Occupational Safety and Health Act obliges the employer to orient the employee to their work and working conditions and to the correct use of tools and safe work procedures. Orientation is particularly important for young workers who are just starting their careers.

Work orientation and guidance

Orientation gives the employee the capacity to be a member of the work community and to carry out their duties appropriately and safely. The aim of work guidance is to make sure that the employee knows how to carry out their duties and how to use the machinery and work equipment and also knows also how to act in an emergency and in exceptional situations.

The person being instructed should be encouraged to take the initiative and act independently. A person who knows what they are doing and is committed to their work wants to take responsibility for their know-how by asking, repeating and finding out when they are unsure about something.

Who needs orientation?

Systematic work orientation and guidance must be provided to all staff groups and temporary workers, summer workers and other seasonal workers.

The orientation and guidance should cover work that is done on the customer's premises and any employees working for an outside employer in the workplace.

Employees going on an international assignment need orientation regarding the culture, legislation, transport and working conditions of the country that they are travelling to.

Work guidance plan

A written plan that can be used to follow how the guidance is progressing supports work orientation and guidance.

The guidance plan is based on the information obtained from the workplace hazard and risk assessment. Guidance for any remaining risks or hazards should be provided, and attention should be paid to the identification of hazards and how to act to prevent dangerous situations.

Written instructions should be prepared for various incidents and cleaning and maintenance work. These instructions can be used when providing guidance to employees. When providing guidance for exceptional situations, illustrative photographs can be useful.

Work guidance also includes talking about workplace rules of conduct, such as how to identify harassment and inappropriate treatment, or how to act in threatening situations and how to predict mental strain.
It is important to make use of the workplace safety personnel's expertise when conducting the orientation, so that occupational health and safety issues can be made a natural part of work guidance.

Work guidance is needed when
  • the employee is new to the task
  • work tasks change
  • work methods change
  • new machinery, equipment and materials are purchased and taken into use
  • work is not frequent
  • safety precautions are neglected
  • an accident occurs in the workplace or an occupational disease is detected
  • the given work guidance is found defective
  • the situation differs from the usual
  • errors in operation and shortcomings in the quality of products and services are detected.
Things supporting work guidance
  • handbooks, manuals
  • diagrams, floor plans
  • work safety instructions
  • guidance instructions
  • operating instructions
  • “near miss” reports
  • process descriptions
  • brochures, product descriptions
  • risk and hazard assessments
  • photographs, videos.

Work requiring a licence and qualifications

Companies have their own work licence practices for work requiring special security measures or special skills. Work licences are based on the instructions that are based on the workplace risk assessment. Work licence practices apply not only to the company's own employees, but also to any external employees. Some work and tasks require certain qualifications.

Examples of work that require a work licence:
•    work in confined spaces

Common examples of work that require a qualification:
•    hot work
•    lifting work
•    electrical installation and maintenance work
•    driving special vehicles
•    blasting work
•    welding work
•    roofing and waterproofing work
•    asbestos work.

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