Ontario Government Introduces New Training To Protect Young Workers On The Job

Archived Release

Ontario Government Introduces New Training To Protect Young Workers On The Job

Health And Safety Resource Developed For Special Needs Students LONDON, ON, May 26 - The Ontario government is helping to protect students with special education needs from workplace injuries by providing teachers with a new health and safety education resource, Labour Minister Chris Bentley announced today. "This new resource gives students with special education needs the safety education to help them understand the basics of workplace safety before they start a new job," said Bentley. "People are six times more likely to be injured during their first month on the job. That means young workers are especially vulnerable and need to be aware of safety issues to protect themselves." Bentley made today's announcement while visiting students at Westminster Secondary School in London. The Live Safe! Work Smart! Special Needs Resource provides lessons, handouts and exercises high school teachers can use to prepare students with special needs -- including those who are deaf, blind or have a learning disability -- to work safely during co-op placements, volunteer work and part-time or summer jobs. The resource has been provided to all District School Boards for distribution to secondary schools across Ontario. Many teachers are already using it in the classroom, while the majority will begin using it in the fall. The new special needs resource complements the government's existing Live Safe! Work Smart! teacher resource material, which was introduced starting in 2000 for Grades 9 to 12 to help teachers meet health and safety learning expectations embedded in Ontario's secondary school curriculum. "Over 49,000 young workers were injured on the job last year," said Bentley. "It is vital that we teach young people safety awareness so they avoid workplace hazards." Disponible en français www.gov.on.ca/lab/ Backgrounder ------------------------------------------------------------------------- LIVE SAFE! WORK SMART! RESOURCE FOR STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL EDUCATION NEEDS What is it? To help prevent injuries among young workers, the Ontario government has created a new resource for high school teachers to give students with special education needs appropriate health and safety information before they begin work. The Live Safe! Work Smart! Special Needs Resource provides lessons, handouts and exercises for students with special education needs, including students who are deaf, blind or have a learning disability, or those who simply learn better from graphic, practical lessons. Teachers can use the material to teach basic skills to help students work safely during co-op placements, volunteer work and part-time or summer jobs. The resource is designed to offer teachers the flexibility to choose exercises and activities suitable for their students. The resource prepares students for the job-specific training every employer must provide, and teaches them to stop and ask questions if they feel any work they may perform is dangerous. Why is it needed? New workers are more than six times as likely to be injured in their first month on the job than at any other time. According to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), in 2004 over 49,000 young workers were injured on the job, more than 13,000 seriously enough to require time off work. Seven young workers lost their lives due to work-related injuries. Ontario fully integrated health and safety lessons into the secondary school curriculum in 1999. The Ministry of Labour and its partners introduced comprehensive resources for teachers, called Live Safe! Work Smart!, to help them teach these health and safety topics. This program began with Grades 9 and 10 in 2000, Grades 11 and 12 in 2001 followed by the development of a version for Cooperative Education. Co-op, Guidance and Life Skills teachers requested customized training resources to prepare students with special education needs to work safely. To satisfy teacher requests and meet the needs of Ontario students, the government responded by creating the Live Safe! Work Smart! Special Needs Resource. The government has also committed to reduce workplace injuries in Ontario by 20 per cent, or 60,000 per year by 2008. Currently, approximately 300,000 people of all ages are injured on the job each year. Ensuring that young workers, including those with special needs, receive appropriate health and safety education before they begin work, coupled with employer-provided mandatory workplace training and supervision, will help to achieve this goal. The role of teachers in health and safety Teachers provide a critical link between the school and the workplace. Using their professional education techniques, supported by these resources, they provide vital safety information to teenagers as they prepare for work placements and summer or part-time jobs. Their timely safety lessons instil the knowledge to help prevent workplace injuries. Through their hard work and dedication, teachers are helping to make a difference. Statistics show a 24 per cent reduction in lost-time injuries among teenagers over the past few years. Development process The Live Safe! Work Smart! Special Needs Resource was developed by the Ministry of Labour in partnership with the WSIB. During development, the ministry consulted with teachers of students with special needs from District School Boards throughout the province to determine the program's format. Lessons were then tested in a special needs classroom in a downtown Toronto secondary school and the team visited Ontario schools for the blind and for the deaf to meet with teachers. The resource has been distributed to District School Boards for distribution to secondary schools across Ontario. Many teachers have already begun using it in the classroom, while the majority will begin using it in the fall of 2005. Other programs to protect young workers The government is striving to continually improve health and safety education and awareness among young workers, parents, teachers and employers. Working with its partners in health and safety, including the WSIB, the government has implemented a number of programs to protect young workers, including: - WorkSmartOntario, a website developed specifically for young and new workers, providing straightforward answers to many of the questions that young and new workers have about protecting their health and safety and employment rights and responsibilities at work; - A series of tip sheets for young workers, their supervisors, employers and parents offering practical advice on how to stay safe on the job. These tip sheets are now available on the Ministry of Labour's website; - Hiring 200 new health and safety inspectors and other enforcement staff, a major expansion in health and safety enforcement in Ontario, to help achieve its goal of preventing 60,000 workplace injuries a year by 2008. These inspectors will target 6,000 workplaces with the highest injury rates and reduce workplace injuries in Ontario; - Implementing a "Last Chance" program giving 25,000 other workplaces (5,000 per year for five years) with marginal health and safety records a last chance to voluntarily improve their health and safety record; and - The WSIB's Spring/Summer Awareness Campaign and Young Worker Awareness program to raise student awareness about the risks of illness and injury in the workplace. For more information, please visit www.gov.on.ca/lab/, www.worksmartontario.gov.on.ca or www.youngworker.ca. Disponible en français www.gov.on.ca/lab/For further information: Peter Fitzpatrick, Minister's Office, (416) 326-7710; Belinda Sutton, Ministry of Labour, (416) 326-7405