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If you’ve been approached about being a workplace safety mentor for a new hire, congratulations! You may feel proud and a little anxious, too. Your role as a mentor will typically include making sure the mentee gets all of the proper and required training necessary to carry out their job safely.
You’ll also likely be the point person for the new hire to turn to when safety-related questions arise. Serving as a safety mentor can benefit new hires in giving them the kind of focused attention that will help them better understand their role in your company’s safety culture. But you’ll benefit too, acting as a mentor in workplace safety.
As a mentor, you’ll set a positive example for other potential mentors who have valuable safety expertise to share. A strong network of experienced mentors can provide a strong safety net to new hires, who — like new employees in just about any field — will make mistakes.
In those circumstances, a good mentor will help them understand what went wrong and what could be done differently next time. Asking experienced employees to serve as mentors also gives new hires the benefit of institutional knowledge and experience; a new person might know that "Process A" must be followed as written but a long-time worker can provide the context that "Process A" came about because of a specific workplace accident or incident.
Your role as a mentor will have broader benefits than just helping the person you’re mentoring. By signaling to the new hire, and your coworkers, how important workplace safety is, you are taking an active role in strengthening safety culture through ownership. When the workplace is safer, everyone benefits.
Mentoring someone else will also improve your own ability to identify, assess, and react to safety issues. Among the responsibilities of being a mentor, you’ll include your own ongoing workplace safety training to ensure you’re providing new hires the latest and most up to date information about company safety policies and procedures. When you have to explain processes, policies, and procedures to others, it can clarify your understanding of common or uncommon problems and how to solve them.
Company safety leaders may also seek your input as a safety mentor in workplace safety training because of your proximity to the process and the people. You may help shape the training experience for all employees, ultimately making it possible for all of them to go home to their families at the end of every workday.
Contributing your knowledge of common workplace safety issues to a mentoring relationship can have positive results not just for the mentee but for you, too. Your workplace safety knowledge and skills can grow, further improving the experience of your mentees. You’ll also have a key role in improving the overall workplace safety culture and possibly get a chance to provide your input into creating workplace safety and health programs, training, and assessments.
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