Protecting the Future of our Communities: Why You Need a Plan to Keep Young Workers Safe this Summer

Seasonal work often means hiring young workers. While young workers are wonderful assets to our communities and workplaces it is important to be aware of and plan for their safety.
Young Worker Facts:
•  Workers aged 15 – 24 are the highest risk for workplace injuries and have 5 to 7 times the risk of injury in the first 4 weeks of a new job.
•  Each year in Manitoba nearly 500 young workers are injured while at work every month.
•  Workplace safety orientations and training are a legal requirement for all new and returning workers.
Why Young Workers are at Higher Risk for Workplace Injuries:
Young workers have less life experience and may be unaware of workplace hazards and their consequences. On top of that they are eager to impress and may be afraid to look foolish and, therefore afraid to ask questions. They may not be confident enough to tell their supervisor that they don’t know how to do a job or don’t feel sure about the safe way of doing work. Sometimes youth have a sense of invincibility and combining  that with being asked to do a dangerous job can be deadly.
STEPS TO TAKE TO KEEP YOUNG WORKERS SAFE ON THE JOB:
  1. Develop and implement prevention policies and safe work procedures. This includes working alone and hazard and near miss reporting procedures. Near misses are “messages from the future” and when reported and communicated can prevent future serious incidents. Develop and train safe work procedures for how to safely use tools and equipment. Don’t forget about disciplinary action and enforcement policies and procedures. Enforcing safe work today can save a life time of regret tomorrow.
  2. Have a training plan. Ensure that every young worker receives a new worker safety orientation. This is legally required by Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health legislation. When training new and young workers how to do a job, spend ample time with them and have them demonstrate to you the safe way of doing the job. See the resources at the end of this article for a new worker orientation form, a free online training program and more.
  3. Provide supervision. A U.S. study found that 80 per cent of work-related injuries among young workers occurred when no supervisor was present. Train supervisors so they are aware of their responsibilities and their supervisory skills remain sharp. New workers need competent supervision, and supervisors need to pay extra attention to young/new workers for several months after they are hired.
  4. Promote and encourage communication. Implement regular safety talks to remind young workers of the safe way of performing their tasks and potential hazard. Encourage new and young workers to ask questions. Ensure that they understand their rights to speak up if they don’t feel safe and to refuse work they believe is dangerous.
  5. Be aware of and follow work restrictions for Young Workers. Employees under 16 years old must have a permit from the Employment Standards Branch before they can work and can only work 20 hours or less during the school week. In addition, youth under 16 are not allowed to work:
    •  Between the hours of 11:00 p.m. & 6:00 a.m.
    •  On a construction site
    •  In industrial or manufacturing processes
    •  Drilling or servicing rigs
    •  On scaffolds or swing stages
    •  Pruning, repairing, maintaining, or removing trees
Youth under 18 are not allowed to work between the hours of 11:00 p.m. & 6:00 a.m. and in the following industries:
•  Forestry / pulp mills
•  Confined spaces
•  Underground in mines or on the face of open pit quarries
•  Asbestos abatement and removal
Keep young workers safe this summer with a FREE Young Worker Safety Orientation Training program available to all Manitoba employers. It is specific to the requirements of Manitoba Safety legislation and participants can print a certificate of training once complete. This and other resources visit: Click 
Questions about your workplace safety risk management? Contact 1Life Workplace Safety Solutions for a no obligation consultation at 204-231-5433.