For young workers, summer jobs can set safe habits for life.
At the end of August, many young workers will have completed their first summer of work. The skills and habits built during these months will continue to shape the way young workers approach workplace safety in the future.
“Conversations about safety need to start early,” says Stuart MacLean, CEO of the Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia (WCB). “Parents, employers and teachers should talk to young workers about safety before, during and after their summer jobs.”
Young workers (under age 25) are among the most at-risk groups for workplace injury. Because they are uncertain and eager to please in new roles, young workers can be hesitant to ask questions or refuse unsafe work, which can lead to serious injury.
In 2016, 3,392 young workers reported an injury on the job. 1,408 of these injuries, or 41.5 per cent, were reported between May 1 and August 31.
Most young worker injuries happen in industries that attract seasonal and part-time employees. The Accommodation (lodging) sector had the most young worker injuries, with 599 injuries reported in 2016. Manufacturing accounted for 460, and construction for 362 the same year.
“Employers need to make sure young workers know their rights and responsibilities,” MacLean says. “Conversation has the power to help create a culture of safety.”
Nova Scotia’s Department of Labour and Advanced Education has joined the safety conversation with a social media campaign geared at young Nova Scotians. By tweeting and sharing fast facts and tips, workers and employers alike can learn about their role in a safe workplace.
Since 2007, there have been 23 per cent less young worker injuries, from 4,428 down to 3,392. Initiating discussions about safety and modelling safe behaviors can help young workers contribute to this downward trend.
“Reaching out to young people as they enter the workforce helps build a safer future,” MacLean says. “Safety doesn’t stop at the end of the summer. Employers have the opportunity to help young workers be safe for life.”