You've already provided orientation and hazard-specific training for the new and young workers you've hired for the busy summer months (see Summer Safety for New and Young Workers). They've signed off on the training and are good to go. You may think you've done your part, however that isn't necessarily the case.
Workers are at highest risk of being injured or killed during their first month on the job, so training and supervision must be a continual process. The latest stats show that over a five-year period 31,689 lost-time claims were filed for young workers in Ontario. Over the same period, five young workers died.*
How can you best support new and young workers through this vulnerable time and beyond? WSPS Consultant Alison Beer has four suggestions.
- Pair each new employee with an experienced one. Whether you call the person assisting your young worker a mentor, a buddy, or a coach, choose someone who is competent, has a track record of following safety rules, has good people skills, and is patient. Young workers may be shy and uncertain, forget what they've learned, and work more slowly.
- Make sure all employees follow the safety rules you have in place. It's easy, and common, for employees to cut corners on the job. However, these employees have an impact on the safety culture and are more likely to have an influence on new and young workers.
- Regularly check in with your young workers. See if they are all right and remind them that it's okay to ask questions if they're not sure about something.
- Stagger new tasks, allowing workers to demonstrate competence before learning something else. "If they are working in a kitchen, for instance, start out with food prep - learning how to use a knife - then go on to cooking - using deep fryers, stoves, and grills. Master one task, then move on to the next."
How WSPS can help
- Provide supervisors and workers with health and safety awareness training. This training is considered so valuable it's required by law.
- Check out WSPS' extensive library of resources for protecting vulnerable workers.
- Review with your supervisors the Ministry of Labour guideline on how to keep new and young workers safe.