More health and safety education required for young workers

Young workers might be too eager with the desire to impress others and put themselves in dangerous situations

Younger people in the workplace need more health and safety education. This is especially timely as many students will soon be taking on summer jobs in Ontario.
That is the crux of a statement this past week from Workplace Safety North (WSN), a not-for-profit health and safety association funded by the provincial government with offices in Sudbury and North Bay.
WSN said that between 2011 and 2020, there were more than 70,000 reported injuries among workers aged 15 to 24 in Ontario, according to statistical data from the Ontario Ministry of Labor, Immigration, Training and Skills Development.
The injuries ranged from minor cuts and bruises to more serious fractures and amputations. During this same time period, 29 young workers lost their lives on the job according to the data.
Data from the labor ministry said slips and falls, and falls from higher areas, are among the common causes of injury.
In the service industry, including retail and food services, injuries often result from slips and falls, as well as burns from hot surfaces and liquids. In the manufacturing industry, workers are more likely to suffer from injuries caused by machinery, said the WSN release.

There are many reasons why young workers are at a higher risk of injury and death on the job, said WSN. Being too eager and the desire to impress others can be a factor.
Another reason is their lack of experience and training. Young workers may not be aware of the potential hazards related to their job or may not know how to use equipment safely. They may feel pressure to impress their employers or coworkers by working quickly or taking on tasks beyond their abilities.
“Young workers may feel less comfortable speaking up about unsafe working conditions,” said Lindsay Digby, a WSN Health and Safety Specialist.
“They can be afraid that they might be seen as difficult or expendable, or they just don’t know what they don’t know,” she added.
“To help young workers, we developed a free set of checklists for workers, supervisors, employers and parent-guardians. It’s a simple way to ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to ensuring the safety of a new or young worker,” said Digby.
“It’s important for young and new workers to ask questions if they’re concerned about how to do something or if they’re concerned about a potential hazard,” Digby said.
“Employers and supervisors are required to answer these questions and address any concerns. If a worker believes their health or safety is at risk, they should report it to their supervisor or employer right away.”
WSN advises that employers with new and younger workers are required to ensure the safety of those people.
They must provide these workers with proper training, supervision, and equipment to ensure they can perform their jobs safely, said WSN. This includes educating workers about the hazards and risks associated with their work and providing them with the necessary controls such as protective equipment and clothing to prevent injuries.
Employers must also ensure that young and new workers are aware of their rights and responsibilities under the OHSA. This includes informing them about their right to refuse work if they believe it is unsafe and their responsibility to report any hazards or injuries they encounter or experience on the job.
Ontario has strict laws in place to ensure the health and safety of all workers. The province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) provides a detailed framework known as the internal responsibility system for protecting the rights of workers, and to ensure their safety on the job.
The Ministry considers a young worker as anyone between the ages of 14 and 24 who is employed, and a new worker as someone who has been in the job for less than six months with their current employer.
The full WSN essay can be found here:

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