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Summertime Safety for Young Workers

YoungWorkers

Summer is traditionally the time when young people head into the workforce, looking to save for their education fund or maybe just a make little extra spending money. Whether they are working on the family farm, life-guarding at their community pool or dispensing coffee at a local Tim Horton’s, it is unlikely they have given much if any thought to the potential workplace hazards that they may encounter.

Because summer is when young workers are in full force, it is also the time when the Ministry of Labour, begins its annual New/Young Worker Blitz. Workplace injuries and fatalities can usually be traced to a few root causes that may vary by sector. The Ministry of Labour’s proactive inspection blitzes on sector-specific hazards are designed to raise awareness and increase compliance with health and safety legislation.

These blitzes are announced in advance and results are reported after they are completed. The ministry tracks each sector to determine if the blitzes result in a long-lasting increase in compliance and decrease in injuries.

The message is being sent.  The government is concerned that 40,000 young workers are injured on the job every year. We need to better protect our future leaders. Not only does the Ministry of Labour play a role in this protection, but so do employers, parents and the young workers themselves.

What are the most important things we can all do to keep our young workers safe?

Young Workers…
o Ask Questions! During the interview stage, young workers (and probably most adults) just want the job and don’t want to appear demanding, but this is the perfect time to ask about anything that is cause for concern, especially your own safety. Ask about training and orientation.
o Once hired, continue to ask questions and know it’s your right to refuse unsafe work. Develop an open line of communications with your employer and ask for further training and supervision if needed.
o Keep your parents informed – discuss any concerns with them
Parents…
o Encourage dialogue with your children – set a good example and share positive stories from your own experiences as a young worker
o Where possible, open dialogue between you and your child’s employer can make a difference
Employers …
o Provide comprehensive training and orientation
o Encourage questions and provide an environment where young workers feel confident to ask questions
o Provide a “safe” environment for employees to ask questions without the fear of reprisals or dismissal
o Training can be as easy as creating a “buddy” system, partnering a young worker with someone more experienced when they first start (statistically, most accidents happen within the first 30 days of employment)

There’s an opportunity for all of us to become safety champions and the onus doesn’t fall to just one group. As important as it is for employers to do everything in compliance with the legislation, it’s equally important for parents and young workers to be responsible advocates of their own safety.

It’s critical to reach students with the message of workplace safety early because:

A) Most students join the workforce before they finish high school; in fact, 69% of students between the ages of 15 to 19 have part-time jobs during the school year and/or work during their summers.

B) Young people are twice as likely to be injured on the job as adults. This difference can be attributed to several factors, including:
• Lack of supervision
• Lack of training and orientation
• Lack of proper equipment
• Unsafe working conditions
Many of these accidents can be prevented if students are armed with the knowledge that they need orientation and training, and that they have the right to refuse unsafe work.

 MOL Young Worker Blitz – May 1 – August 31 2016

The MOL Blitz Also Includes New Workers

It has been identified by years of statistics, that any new worker, of any age on the job, is up to four times more likely to be injured during the first month than any other time performing that job. Any new hire, whether permanent or temporary, including supervisors, with or without experience in the industry, and any current workers who are assigned new jobs are at increased risk.
 
The New and Young Workers Blitz will be conducted over the next four months in the industrial and health care sectors, in extended coverage workplaces, and as part of the construction sector low-rise residential blitz. In addition to inspecting for compliance with all legislative requirements, MOL inspectors will check specifically for:
• whether required employee orientation, training and supervision are in place
• what safety measures are in place to prevent injuries to this vulnerable group of workers
There are many possibilities as to why new and young workers are at greater risk of injury, such as:
• have received inadequate training
• have little or no prior work experience
• Are afraid to ask questions
• They don’t know their individual rights

Workplace health and safety is everyone’s responsibility and by law, employers must be compliant with the Ontario Health & Safety Act.  There are numerous health & safety topic resources available to help ensure you are keeping your employees safe and that a MOL inspection will go smoothly if they dropped in at your workplace.

Do you hire young workers for the summer? 

Have you done your due diligence?

Remember   –   Think Safety…Work Safely

Dedicated to helping you on your Health & Safety Journey.

Sandra McDonald- Souter
Health & Safety Trainer

What is the Real Cost of an Accident in the Workplace?

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No matter what kind of job you work at…Safety is Everyone’s Responsibility!!!

The results of a workplace accident can be minimal or tragic. A workplace accident can cost the worker and the company a lot of lost time and money.  Accidents in the workplace happen for a number of reasons and result in many direct and indirect costs.

Employees need to stay alert and aware at all times to avoid accidents.  It is important to train workers to think about the consequences for themselves as well as others.  Keeping safety in mind everyday will help reduce injuries, damage to equipment or property and ensure that everyone returns home to their family at the end of the day.

It is important for owners and supervisors to be aware of the most common causes for workplace accidents and be able to spot the risk factors and take steps to set policies and procedures to prevent accidents.

Some of the most common causes of workplace accidents are; * Overtired from lack of sleep or overwork. * Distracted or not focused on the task at hand. * Improper technique or lack of training, especially when dealing with machinery or manually operated equipment. * Carelessness or rushing to complete a task.

How Much Does A Workplace Accident Cost The Employee?

There is more than pure economics related to the real cost of an accident in the workplace for the employee.

  • Depending on the severity of the injury it could mean lost wages of a few days, weeks,  months or permanently.  Even if you are entitled to Worker’s Compensation it could be weeks or months before you actually receive any money.
  • There is the possibility of pain and suffering in the short term or even permanently.
  • There could be stress associated with fear of returning to work or never being able to return to work.
  • The employee could be demoralized and disheartened about not being able to contribute and support their family.

How Much Does A Workplace  Accident Cost The Employer?

  • The WSIB  insurance premiums will go up.  There is a premium increase of 10% for claims over $5000 and a 25% increase for a  fatality.
  • There could be a drop in productivity when an employee is off, especially for an extended time.
  •  Cost to hire and train a permanent or temporary replacement for the injured worker.
  • There may be costs associated with repairing or replacing damaged tools and equipment.
  • The cost of an accident investigation and the implementation of measures (possible WSIB Workwell Audit) to correct the situation that caused the accident or injury to occur.
  • New safety training classes to ensure the same accident never occurs again.
  • Depending on the accident and how it occurred some employers may face fines from the MOL as well as a civil law suit.
  • The MOL may issue a stop work order until the problem has been fixed.

These are just some of the costs of a workplace accident. The indirect costs are often much higher than the direct costs.  The after effects can ripple down to other people at work, members of the accident victim’s family as well as the company. This is why it is so important to think safety and work safely at all times.  Safety is Everyone’s Responsibility!

Please share your comments or personal stories below.

Remember   –   Think Safety…Work Safely

Dedicated to helping you on your Health & Safety Journey,

Sandra McDonald- Souter Health & Safety Trainer

 

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