How to Level Up Your Safety Orientation Program

Safety orientations are a journey. Here are the four phases along the way that construction companies should follow.

4 Min Read

The first few days on the job are challenging for everyone. So how can you help your new employees to start on a high note? Can you do this without spending every Monday of the year in a conference room, staring at safety orientation checklists?

Like many learning processes, you can accomplish safety orientation in many ways. Which option is best for you? It depends. At Alliance Safety Council, we think about safety orientations as a journey. Let’s walk through each of the four phases along the Safety Orientation Journey. As you learn about each, consider where you are, and where you would like to be, on your journey.


Reacting looks like this: Andrew is a safety manager at a small but growing business, and Joe is one of his team leads.

Monday morning, 7:20 a.m.

Joe: Hey, good morning! What do you want me to do with the three guys starting today?

Andrew: What three guys?

Joe: You know, the three guys we met at the job fair three weeks ago? They cleared their background checks and are starting today. Should be here at 8:00 a.m. What do you want me to do with them?

Andrew: I have no idea, Joe. I didn’t even know we hired new guys. Uh, I guess I could hand some of this paperwork over and show them around.

Does this sound familiar? Are new hires often a surprise? If you are reacting, someone in your organization feels like there is a “fire drill” when a new employee starts – without advance notice or any standard materials, they will have to set aside other tasks to show someone the ropes.

We have all been there. This is stop one on your orientation journey – reacting. If you work at a small business, if you are just starting out, or even if you don’t frequently hire new employees, you may start out reacting to the need for an orientation. Someone asks, and someone delivers. At the end of the day, the new employees get the information they need to move on in their employment – but no orientation looks quite the same. There is no standard script, and you may not have an official orientation leader. This works – for a while. Once hiring picks up, or a company grows past a certain point (typically when hiring people every month), this starts to get painful. Time to move on to the next stop in the journey.


Let’s fast-forward: after 6 months of reacting to new employee “surprises” on Monday mornings, Andrew decides he’s tired of repeating himself. He hunkers down and writes an orientation outline. He spends the time creating a PowerPoint presentation that covers everything in his outline – that way, at least he can take a Monday off occasionally, and not worry about getting called in to orient a new employee.

This is standardizing. Most companies take what they have learned while reacting to new hires early in their orientation journey and begin to standardize their process. This often looks like a daily agenda, a presentation someone can go through each time new employees start, and perhaps some materials for new employees to take with them. Ever gotten a list of website links to cruise through the first afternoon on a job? Or a checklist of your new employee to-dos? These are standard employee orientation materials.

This is a great next step in maturing your approach to orientations. New employees get the same information every time – no matter who’s walking them through the orientation process. And hopefully, they walk away with a similar list of to-dos.

Many companies can maintain their orientations in the standardizing phase for quite a while. But what happens when you need a record of when someone completed orientation? What if you need to know if someone specifically understood a policy or procedure? How can you keep those records and demonstrate that a specific person received specific information at a specific time?

And what happens when Andrew announces his retirement in three months, and no one is available to run new employees through the orientation PowerPoint every Monday morning?

To read the rest of this article written by Joelle McGehee of the Alliance Safety Council for the American Society of Concrete Contractors click here.

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