This article was written by Josh Hancey, Safety Director at Helpside.

Did you know that while overall workplace injury rates have been decreasing, first year employees’ injury rates have been increasing? This is why it is important for business of all sizes to focus on first-year employee safety.

In 2021, private industry employers reported 2.6 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses, which is a decrease of 1.8 percent from 2020.

There is an even bigger decrease in workplace injuries from the year 2021 to 2000. In 2000, there were 6.1 cases per 100 FTE (full-time employee) and in 2021 there was only 2.3 cases per 100 FTE.

While workplace injury rates have decreased over the past 20 years, the injury rate for first year employees has increased. Out of the 1.5 million workers’ compensation claims between 2015-2019 , research shows that 35% of injuries occur during an employee’s first year of a new job.

The most common causes of first-year injuries are:

  • Overexertion (27%)
  • Slips, trips and falls (22%)
  • Being struck by an object (14%)
  • Cuts and punctures (6%)
  • Being caught in or between objects (6%)
  • Motor vehicle accidents (6%)

common employee injuries

High productivity demands, labor shortages, and mass employees shifting job industries, may all be contributing factors in the increased injury rates. Many employees start jobs without being properly trained, receiving clear expectations, or ensuring that procedures/processes are clearly understood.

All workplace accidents impact your bottom-line and focusing on increasing worker safety for new employees is a great place to start.

Here are some ways to improve first-year safety in the workplace:

  • Set clear safety standards in the workplace. Ensure that all safety policies, procedures, and safety controls are reviewed with new employees prior to starting work. In addition, ensure that the employees understand the consequences of each if not followed.
  • Safety training can decrease injuries, illnesses, and fatalities by keeping safety top of mind. Here are some ways to help improve your training program:
    • Ensure training is relevant to employee job duties
    • Consider “bite size” learning; shorter trainings that are done more frequent
    • Base trainings off actual hazards and near misses in your workplace
    • Consider frequent “Toolbox Talks” to constantly remind employees of the hazards and controls in your workplace
    • Ensure that all employees have access to any training programs and know who to contact with safety-related questions
    • Provide additional training if there are any changes in your company
    • Require tests/quizzes and/or observations to ensure the employee understand the requirements discussed in the training materials
  • Performing routine safety audits in your workplace can help ensure that new employees are following the safety standards that have been established. Safety audits can also be a great opportunity to coach new employees that may be less experienced and familiar with their job duties.

The safety of your employees should be a priority for all business leaders. Providing your workers with clear safety standards, ongoing training programs, and frequent safety audits will help reduce workplace injuries.

Helpside has a long history of helping employers reduce injury rates.

Helpside offers:

  • Safety training programs in a variety of different formats (i.e., in-person, online, Toolbox talks, handouts, etc.).
  • Safety policies, procedures, manuals, expectations, etc., customized to your company needs.
  • Customized safety audit programs to ensure employees are following safety standards and receive the necessary coaching to be successful.

If you would like help developing any of these programs, please contact Helpside Safety Director Josh Hancey via email at