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New and young worker initiative: this orientation tool sets the bar

New and young workers orientation

Thorough orientation is critical to keeping new and young workers safe on the job, says WSPS Account Manager Charmaine Mitchell. Ministry of Labour (MOL) inspectors will be looking for proof it’s been delivered during focused workplaces inspections that began on July 15 and will continue until August 30. 

Last year MOL inspectors visited 1,901 workplaces and issued 7,675 orders, including 116 stop work orders. While this year’s initiative focuses on retail, restaurants, tourism and hospitality, “new and young workers are the focus when the inspectors visit any workplace,” says Charmaine. 

The ministry’s new and young worker initiative, now in its 12th year, aims to reduce the number of injuries and deaths among these vulnerable workers. Between 2014 and 2017, the WSIB approved 34,298 compensation claims for lost-time injuries involving workers aged 15 to 24 years. In 2017 alone, injuries to young workers resulted in almost 8,000 lost-time claims. 

“The best way to protect new and young workers is to invest in your orientation program,” says Charmaine. “Give them the right health and safety information, instruction, tools and support up front. Use WSPS downloadable orientation checklist to make sure you’ve got everything covered.”

How to use the checklist 

Reviewing the WSPS checklist can help you pinpoint gaps in your orientation and training program — and in your policies and procedures. But first assemble a team to take on the task. A team approach to reviewing these parts of the form ensures that all hazards are covered. Besides, says Charmaine, “many eyes make it easier.” 

Team members may include senior leadership, HR, supervisors and workers. “If I were an employer I’d want to have my Joint Health & Safety Committee or health and safety representative involved to ensure we’re covering all the health and safety initiatives we should be.”

The new worker orientation checklist also lists essential training topics. Consider personalizing the list to reflect your business. The checklist also guides you through common hazards, job-specific hazards and other work-related information workers need to know. 

Begin your orientation with an overview of the company’s culture, values and commitment to safety. Make the training as comprehensive as possible — don’t assume prior knowledge — and open the door to questions, advises Charmaine. “Sometimes, we don’t as employers take into account the lack of life experience young workers have.”

Complement the orientation with demonstrations of safety techniques and emergency procedures, and a tour of the workplace to meet key players and locate essential items like Safety Data Sheets and first aid stations. 

After orientation is complete, build on the learning with task-specific training, safety talks, refreshers and other means of communication.

Keep a record

When you and participating workers sign off on the checklist, “it becomes an important document to help prove to a ministry inspector that you have done all this great training,” says Charmaine, especially if an incident occurs. But more importantly, it will ensure that young people have a foundation for a safe work life.

How we can help

Learn more about the new and young worker initiative and WSPS’ full range of resources for keeping new and young workers safe.

Get WSPS’ New and Young Worker Tool Kit, which includes: 

  • WSPS and MOL's new and young worker webinar — video and slides
  • job aids to help build awareness
  • information sheets on orientation/training and supervisor competencies
  • awareness poster on young workers
  • video on effective supervisors
  • link to Bring Safety Home, a website with free resources to help start the conversation with young people about the importance of safety in the workplace

If you’re a small business looking for expert input on your orientation and training program, our consultants offer up 10 hours of free consultation to firms with fewer than 20 employees. Contact WSPS Customer Care at 1-877-494-WSPS (9777) or