Last month over 50,000 students spanning five countries paused
for 50 minutes to learn about workplace safety. MySafeWork broadcasted its first ever live-stream event, Courageous, and assembled a panel of experts to share practical advice about young worker safety and encourage students to oppose unsafe working conditions.
The harsh reality is that over 125,000 young people will be injured at work in Canada this year and just one workplace incident is too many. New and young workers are more likely to be injured on the job for a multitude of reasons – they’re unaware of the risks, they don’t know their rights, or they’re too afraid to speak up – but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Here are 3 young worker safety tips the Courageous panel of experts (Kim Boyle, SVP People and Safety at Alectra Utilities, Dawn Tattle, President at Anchor Shoring, Jessica DiSabatino, VP at MySafeWork and Josh LeBrun, President and COO at eCompliance) recommend to protect new and young workers:
Assess how safe the company is before accepting a job
When starting your job search process, one important thing to do is research how safe the company is you’re applying to. A good place to begin your safety research is by visiting the company’s website. Most organizations will have a specific page under their About Us section that is dedicated to health and safety. From there you can assess how the company describes their safety culture and their EHS policies, programs and procedures. Another thing to take note of are safety awards that have been won and third-party safety certifications like COR. These are strong indicators that the company takes safety seriously and maintains good practices.
If there isn’t a safety section on the company’s website and you’re still interested in the job opportunity – be sure to ask questions about the health and safety program during the interview process. If they don’t mention it or dodge your question, consider pursuing other opportunities. Bottom line: don’t work for a company that isn’t committed to safety.
Know your rights
Under Canada’s Occupational Health and Safety legislation, young workers have three fundamental safety rights:
-Right to know what hazards are present in the workplace
-Right to participate in workplace health and safety activities
-Right to refuse unsafe work
Knowing your rights as a worker and exercising them is critical – even though it can be intimidating. Many new and young workers are unsure or anxious about asking important safety questions out of fear of reprisal or losing their jobs. But next time you have a safety question or concern, rest assured that there are no repercussions for bringing up unsafe working conditions – you are protected by the law.
Empower each other and share your knowledge
In the EHS community we like to say that safety isn’t proprietary – meaning it’s not privately owned knowledge. Safety best practices are meant to be shared with our co-workers and even across the industry as a whole.
As a worker, it’s your right to participate, and part of safety participation involves empowering and encouraging the people around you (including your friends and family members) to speak up, ask questions, and never cut corners – the risk just isn’t worth it.
Lastly, if you know someone that’s about to work in a potentially unsafe environment or already is – have the courage to speak up and tell them not to work for a company that doesn’t respect them. Their life is worth more than that.
Share Your Story
Watch the Courageous broadcast and tell MySafeWork how you’ve stood up against unsafe working conditions and championed young worker safety to get a free Safety Nerd t-shirt!