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4 tips to protect young workers — and your business

4 tips to protect young workers — and your business — this summer

Want to keep your business booming? Don’t skimp on safety orientation and training for the new and young workers you hire, says Ayden Robertson, Senior Consultant, WSPS. “It will help protect this particularly vulnerable group from workplace incidents and also support a thriving business.”

A recent study found that workplaces without adequate safety programs and effective orientation and training in place are more likely to experience higher injury rates. [1]  

New and young workers are three times more likely to experience an injury in their first month on the job. While they make up only 13% of the workforce, young workers account for about 16% of WSIB lost-time injury claims.[2]  

What makes new and young workers more vulnerable? “They may have little to no experience with health and safety. They may be unaware of their rights and responsibilities. There may be gaps in understanding of the language in which safety information is provided. They may also be eager to impress, lack the confidence to speak up, or even irrationally believe they are immune to harm,” explains Ayden. 

What can you do to set your new and young workers, and your business, up for success this summer? Read Ayden’s tips below. 

4 tips for keeping young workers safe

  1. Know the risks new and young workers face. “Every job comes with risks of varying degrees. As the employer, you need to understand what the risks are before you can implement controls, develop and train workers.”

  2. Make sure your health and safety policies and procedures are in place and up to date. “Regardless of the size of an organization, it’s critical to put pen to paper and document how jobs are to be done safely. Formalizing how the work is to be performed with clear safety considerations provides a consistent approach to a task to which workers can be held accountable.”

  3. Don’t rush training. Yes, you want to get people up to speed quickly, but "it's not enough to just give new or young workers policies to read, sign off, and then start a job.” Everyone learns differently and it is critical to provide and reinforce important safety information in various ways. Consider a mix of theory and practical training that:

  • includes mandatory health and safety awareness training on workers’ rights and responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

  • encourages your new and young workers to bring forward health and safety concerns. “There are always conscious and unconscious pressures to perform in the workplace, and new and young workers are typically eager to impress,” says Ayden. “As a result, they may not even mention hazards or near-misses they experience. Share examples of past health and safety improvements in the workplace to reinforce that worker input is valued and actioned.” 

  • utilizes a variety of teaching methods. “Training should progress beyond the classroom to the work site.  “Put theory into practice with hands-on instruction on how to perform tasks safely. Ayden recommends using the “I tell you and show you; you tell me and show me” approach.

  • allows young workers to develop skills safely before working independently. Job shadowing is a great idea, says Ayden. “Consider pairing new and young workers with experienced workers as part of the training process to provide coaching and reinforce safe work practices."

  • emphasizes accountability for not following safety procedures. “New and young workers want to impress and may take unnecessary risks. It’s important to emphasize that workers are expected to follow safe work procedures and that supervisors will actively ensure they do,” says Ayden.

4. Be sure your supervisors are trained and “competent” under the Act. “A supervisor by any other name – coordinator, lead hand, captain, or ‘supreme chancellor’ – is still a supervisor if they have charge of a workplace or authority over workers.” 

How WSPS can help 


Visit our New, Young & Vulnerable Workers Resource Hub

Browse through our extensive collection of videos, articles, downloads and other resources to learn how to keep your most vulnerable workers safe.


[1] Health and Safety Leadership Survey White Paper 2022, page 11.

[2] Occupational Health and Safety in Ontario (Apr 2018 - Mar 2019)