Turn young, new worker blitz results into a 6-point prevention strategy

Apr 08, 2015

Young workerStarting May 1, Ministry of Labour inspectors will be conducting a four-month enforcement blitz focusing on young workers aged 14 to 24 years, and new or reassigned workers on the job for less than six months. These workers are three times more likely to be injured during their first month on the job than at any other time, so convert this annual enforcement rite of spring into a customized injury prevention strategy.

What the inspectors focused on

During last year's blitz, inspectors conducted 2,560 visits to 2,049 workplaces and issued 7,941 orders, including 156 stop work orders. While onsite, inspectors checked for compliance with these requirements:

  • orientation, training and supervision - were new and young workers receiving the required information, training and supervision required to protect their health and safety when starting a job
  • internal responsibility system (IRS) - were employers complying with such requirements as having a joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative
  • safety measures - were required measures and procedures in place to prevent injuries and occupational illness.

These requirements are about more than compliance. They improve health, safety and organizational performance. Supervisors, lead hands and workers engaged in health and safety are more likely to be engaged in all aspects of the business, promoting organizational excellence and innovation.

Translating requirements into a prevention action plan that works for you

WSPS consultant Ana Reyes offers the following six suggestions on how to develop a prevention program for new and young workers. While based on best practices, they’re also mindful of past enforcement blitz results.

  1. Before hiring, assess hazards related to the jobs you're hiring for. Can you implement better controls? Is your job- and hazard-specific training up to the mark?
  2. Review and update orientation training to ensure new workers know how to work safely and productively. But delivering the training is just the start. Have they grasped it? Are they able to apply it? Try this: tell them how to do it, show them how to do it, and then watch them do it. Also, keep records. An inspector will want to know what the training covers, who's taken it, and if they have understood the training and are applying it.
  3. Conduct your own blitz inspection. Ask new and young employees questions that an inspector might ask, such as where is the MSDS binder? What would they do if a customer becomes angry or aggressive? How would they get that product down from the rack? If employees can't answer the question correctly, you’ve got your topic for the next safety talk.
  4. Take generational and cultural differences into account. The best way to communicate with and train workers differs from one group to another. For instance, young workers may be more comfortable with technology than older workers, and workers new to Canada may prefer training material in a language other than English. Understanding which methods and languages will be most effective with each group will help you communicate effectively, increasing comprehension and results.
  5. Create a buddy system so that new hires have an experienced worker who can coach them and answer questions. This is particularly helpful for people entering the workforce for the first time or new to Canada. Adjusting to a new job may just be one step in adjusting to a new life.
  6. Observe workers as they perform tasks. Coach, retrain, and offer positive reinforcement, especially when workers ask about safety. Always reinforce a corrective action as a positive result for everyone involved.

We can help you gear up for young and new workers - and the blitz