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Reduce occupational injuries among young people at work with a better introduction

Summer is, for many, a wonderful time of vacation or summer break - a well-deserved rest after winter and spring. It might also mean going to work for the first time. Statistics from Statistics Sweden show that 168,000 young people aged 16-19 had an income during August 2020. Ahead of the summer of 2022, nearly 50,000 vacancies for summer staff were advertised, according to the Employment Agency. For a couple of weeks, a large part of the regular staff will be replaced by young people who will have their first working life experiences.

Unfortunately, this also comes with a more negative statistic, which shows that young people aged 16 to 24 run a greater risk of workplace accidents than their older colleagues. In the summer of 2022, sickness absence was registered for 1,500 young people due to a workplace accident and in the last five years, it is a total of 7,200 young people.

This has caused the Swedish Work Environment Agency to react and carry out an inspection of the industries and workplaces identified as most common among young people, among others:

  • Health care
  • Trade & repair
  • Hotel & restaurant
  • Manufacturing

The reasons for increased risk among young people

Previously, when the Swedish Work Environment Authority have carried out inspections in industries with many young people, it has been shown that there are often no routines for risk assessment and remedying risks in the work environment. The lack of routines can also make it more difficult to introduce new employees sufficiently, which can lead to an increased risk of having an accident at work.

According to the Director General of the Swedish Work Environment Agency, summer workers have less experience, are unfamiliar with the equipment or tools and potentially don't dare to ask questions if they feel unsafe.


Why don't you have routines in place?

Many businesses today have routines, policies and processes that describe the work to be done in the company. In today's increasingly digital working climate and working methods, it is becoming more apparent to organizations how important it is to also have a well-functioning routine for their documentation. This is partly to make sure that important information won't be lost if the "knowledge carriers" in the organization leave, but routines around documentation are also important so that information is easily accessible when needed. New employees then have an easier time acquiring necessary knowledge and becoming aware of risks.


Introduction to new hires is critical

When young people had to describe their experience of the introduction to their summer job, they felt it almost didn't seem to matter because it was still only a few weeks of work. This is according to Ekot on the 11th of September 2023.

Regardless of whether it has been a matter of lack of routines or due to other circumstances, it is a fact that the introduction is precious for every summer worker.

We at InfoCaption want to share a checklist with tips for an introduction to meet the employee's needs without being too stressful for the employer.


1: Decide which parts of the introduction that need to be in-person with the employee and what can be offered in a digital format.
Digitizing much of the introduction can save time in the long run when the same material can be reused. In-person briefings are, in many cases, necessary, but make sure that there is digital support for the employee to return to when he/she needs it during the working day. As a new employee, there is often a lot of new knowledge to keep track of, and it is then valuable to know where to find relevant documentation when needed.

2: Agree on a method for how you will document.
The information should be easy to find. Hence, it's wise to decide on a format and a place for all knowledge. Use language that is easy to understand, even for those lacking prior knowledge in the industry.

3: Evaluate what needs to be included in the introduction. 
It may be wise to scale back certain parts of the introduction so that the flow of information doesn't become overwhelming for the new employee. Instead, the employee can learn where the information is so that he/she can reach it when needed.

4: Collect everything in one place!
Collect all information, knowledge and material related to the role or assignment in one place. It contributes to quality assurance when employees have easy access to relevant support in their work. This gathering place can be a knowledge portal or your intranet. But make sure that it is easy to find the desired information. Otherwise, there is a risk that the support will not be used.


In conclusion

In order to reduce the risk of occupational accidents, employers can take responsibility by documenting necessary and valuable knowledge and making it available in the best way. Create an introduction to the new employee with parts of the knowledge needed to do the job. In addition, the employee needs to learn how to find information and knowledge when needed.


Do you want more tips on onboarding new employees?

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The Author

At the blog, we share inspiration and knowledge about digital learning and Performance Support, and inspiring cases from our customers.

Feel free to contact the author if you have questions or want to discuss the article.

Filip Björnberg InfoCaption

Filip Björnberg