Young and new worker blitz starts now

May 15, 2012

YoungKeeping new and young workers safe continues to be a priority for Ontario’s Ministry of Labour. The fifth in a series of young and new worker inspection blitzes began May 1, and continues until August 31. Every day in Ontario, nearly 50 young workers under age 25 are injured or killed on the job. Research shows that both young and new workers are four times more likely to be injured during their first month of employment than at any other time.

During last year’s blitz, almost 3,000 workplaces received visits from inspectors looking for violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act involving young and new workers. In the course of these visits, inspectors issued almost 10,000 orders. Anticipate as many or more this year. (For more 2011 blitz results, see “Learning from past blitzes,” below.)

Roy Ford, the ministry’s provincial specialist, industrial program, told HSO Network News that inspectors visiting any workplace with young or new workers will receive special scrutiny, particularly those in the services sector. Among the subsectors Ford cited are restaurants, retail stores, hospitality, wholesalers, vehicle sales, logging and tree planting, farming operations, and extended workplaces, such as landscaping and conservation areas.

Ford described young and new workers as people from 14 to 24 years old, as well as seasonal, temporary and newly hired workers. This second group includes new workers, including those 25 or older, who have been on the job less than six months or who have been reassigned to a new job in the last six months. “This includes supervisors,” said Ford.

“Young workers who return to workplaces year after year are often made supervisors, so now you’ve got young workers supervising young workers. We see this often in camps and conservation areas, and restaurants or stores with extended hours. Our inspectors will want to make sure they’ve received the training they need to fulfill their responsibilities as supervisors.”

The young and new worker blitz is just one of 13 blitzes taking place this fiscal year. Read about the others, and how to prepare for them, in “Just released: MOL’s 2012/13 inspection blitz schedule.”

Learning from past young and new worker blitzes

Typically, the top three orders issued during young and new worker blitzes involve

  • preparing an annual written OHS policy and a program to implement it
  • providing information, instruction and supervision to workers
  • general duty clause (e.g., having a heat stress plan)

From a hazard control perspective, orders were issued last year under O. Reg. 851 for the following sections:

  • housekeeping – sections 11–20
  • fire safety – sections 22–23
  • machine guarding and lockout – sections 24–42
  • material handling – sections 44–66
  • personal protection equipment – sections 79–86
  • industrial hygiene – sections 124–139

How WSPS can help

  • Watch for coverage of a future new “section 21” committee on vulnerable workers. Section 21 committees are appointed by the minister of labour to inquire into and provide advice on specific issues or concerns. The name comes from section 21 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which empowers the minister to appoint such committees. Appointing a section 21 committee on vulnerable workers, including new and young workers, is a priority of Ontario’s new chief prevention officer, George Gritziotis.