Talking health and safety with young workers

    Presented by: IAPA (Industrial Accident Prevention Association)

    TORONTO, Sept. 30 /CNW/ - When it comes to discussing safety with today's
youth, people often speak of safe sex, saying no to drugs, and not drinking
and driving - all of which are very important conversations to have. But what
about workplace health and safety? Are the youth in your life prepared to
enter the workforce? Are they even aware of their basic health and safety
rights and responsibilities at work?
    Starting a new job is an exciting time for a young worker. They are eager
to learn new skills, impress their employers, and fit in with new co-workers.
And when they are asked to carry out a task they aren't trained to do or are
uncomfortable doing, young people will go ahead and do it - no questions
asked. The fear of being fired or letting the employer down often takes
precedence over their own personal health and safety.
    But this shouldn't be the case and here's why. Young workers are one of
the most vulnerable groups in the workforce. In the first four weeks on the
job, they are five times more likely to be injured at work than any other age
group(1). In 2006, more than 11,000 young workers between the ages of 15 and
24 were injured and weren't able to work for at least one day. In the same
year, ten young workers lost their lives at work(2).
    Young workers lack work experience and knowledge to assess the risks
involved in their jobs. It's important to teach them that health and safety is
a right - not an option. Young workers need more support when they venture
into the workplace. Resources such as IAPA's internationally award-winning
First 4 Weeks orientation kit and Young Worker's Awareness Program can equip
them with the right tools to be safe at work. Parents, supervisors, and young
workers also play key roles in reinforcing this message and the best way to
achieve this is by both talking about health and safety and showing why it's
important. Here are some tips to help you begin these discussions.

    -   Remind the young person that ALL workers - regardless of age - have
        basic rights. These include the right to know workplace hazards and
        how to prevent them, the right to participate in a healthy and safe
        environment without worrying about retribution, and the right to
        refuse dangerous work.
    -   Never assume that a young person is working in a safe environment or
        that they have received proper health and safety training from their
        employers. A worker may be hesitant to talk about their working
        conditions so it's important that parents and supervisors lead the
        conversation by asking questions.
    -   Young workers are accountable for their own health and safety. While
        employers are required to provide proper training and personal
        protection equipment, it is also up to the young worker to demand
        that they receive these items.
    -   Be a role model. Parents and supervisors play strong roles in shaping
        a young worker's perception of health and safety. Those who practice
        health and safety on a regular basis can greatly influence a youth's
        work habits for life and teach them how to make their well-being a

    Young workers bring fresh ideas, enthusiasm, and a hard work ethic to an
organization. They are assets to both workplaces and their communities so it's
important that parents and employers communicate with them about the
importance of health and safety. After all, it's the one safety talk that can
save their lives.

    IAPA (Industrial Accident Prevention Association) is a not-for-profit,
member-driven organization operating in Ontario since 1917. Representing more
than 50,000 member firms and in excess of 1.5 million Ontario workers, IAPA is
Canada's leader in workplace health, safety, and employee well-being. The
association is focused on providing industry-leading training, consulting,
educational products, and informational services that meet members' needs and
the needs of those in their communities.

    (1) Institute for Work and Health (IWH), Infocus - Workplace Research
        Supplement, Issue No.34a Fall 2003
    (2) WSIB, Statistical Supplement - Young Worker Statistics 2006

For further information:

For further information: on IAPA, visit or call
1-800-406-IAPA (4272)

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