Ontario Ministry Of Labour Targets Young Worker And New Worker Health And Safety

Archived Release

Ontario Ministry Of Labour Targets Young Worker And New Worker Health And Safety

Enhanced Enforcement And Better Access To Resources Part Of Plan KITCHENER, ON, June 6 - With summer job season approaching, the Ontario government is strengthening enforcement to prevent injuries among young workers and workers new to their jobs, Minister of Labour Chris Bentley announced today. "Workers are six times more likely to be injured during their first month on the job than at any other time in their working life," Bentley told high school students in Kitchener. "Such injuries are preventable if workers are well trained and supervised, so we are instructing our inspectors to pay special attention to requirements for employers to provide proper training." Ministry inspectors have been directed to focus on sections of the Occupational Health and Safety Act that oblige employers to give young and new workers the information, instruction and supervision needed to work safely. Recognizing that most businesses want to do the right thing, the ministry is joining with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), safe workplace associations, and other health and safety partners to make health and safety resources more readily available. This initiative to improve safety among young and new workers is part of a broader ministry plan to reduce workplace injuries by 20 per cent by 2008. The plan includes: - Hiring 200 new health and safety inspectors, 100 of whom are already at work across Ontario, with 100 more being hired over the next year. - The "High Risk" and "Last Chance" initiatives, targeting workplaces with poor health and safety performance records and high costs to the WSIB. - A new annual process to update occupational exposure limits for the over 700 hazardous substances covered by Ontario regulation. "More than 49,000 young workers were injured and some even killed on the job last year," said Bentley, "No summer job is worth an injury." For more information on young and new worker issues, go to the Ministry of Labour's website at www.gov.on.ca/lab/english/hs/new_workers.html or the WSIB's website at www.wsib.on.ca/wsib/wsibsite.nsf/public/parentalcampaign2005 . Disponible en français www.gov.on.ca/lab/ Backgrounder ------------------------------------------------------------------------- YOUNG AND NEW WORKER HEALTH AND SAFETY A worker is six times more likely to be injured during their first month on the job than at any other time in their working life. These statistics hold true regardless of age, but are especially relevant to young workers just beginning their working lives, with little or no experience or training. The Ontario government has made workplace health and safety a priority, and has committed to reducing workplace injuries by 20 per cent by 2008. Targeting young and new workers is an important part of the Ministry of Labour's plan to achieve this goal. Part of the plan involves targeting employers who hire young and new workers. The Government has recently hired 100 new health and safety inspectors across Ontario. The ministry has prepared an easy checklist for employers to use to ensure their workplaces are safe for new and young workers. This is available on the ministry website at www.gov.on.ca/lab/english/hs/new_workers.html Inspectors will be asking important questions in all Ontario workplaces, including: Are workplaces prepared for new workers? Ensuring workplaces are in compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations, and making the workplace safe for workers is mandatory. This includes following Ontario's minimum ages for work. Ensuring that supervisors are competent persons as required by the OHSA is essential. A management team committed to excellence in health and safety that is prepared to answer questions new workers may have, and will keep an eye out for them and reinforce safe working procedures is critical. Are workplaces ensuring new workers are ready for work? Asking new workers about their previous safety education and work experience helps to ensure they know the basics of workplace safety. Too often we assume that everyone knows the basics, only to find out after something happens that they didn't. Workplaces need to ensure every new worker knows his or her rights and responsibilities, including: - The right to participate in health and safety training and safety programs in the workplace - The right to know about hazards they may be exposed to on the job - The right to refuse unsafe work - The responsibility to follow safety procedures and wear any personal protective equipment that may be required. Do workplaces provide orientation to introduce new workers to the workplace? Orientation is more than just a tour of your workplace. It should cover emergency procedures, workplace safety rules everyone must follow, general requirements for personal protective equipment, first aid provisions, information about where the OHSA is posted and all other essential health and safety facts. If possible new and young workers should be introduced to the health and safety committee members or the health and safety representative during orientation and be shown where their names are posted. Does job-specific training ensure that every worker who takes on a new task understands how to perform the work safely? Every Ontario employer must provide information about hazards in the workplace and how to perform work safely. Workplaces need to ensure that training takes place before any new task is assigned and that all information provided is understood. The ideal method of training new and young workers is to demonstrate safe performance of a task and then have the trainee perform the task under supervision until they can demonstrate that they have mastered it. If workers will need to use safety devices or wear personal protective equipment they will need to be trained to use and wear them properly. If the trainer isn't the new worker's supervisor, workplaces need to ensure the trainer is an expert at performing the tasks and is a good teacher. Are all workers, especially new ones, closely supervised? A supervisor must be in regular contact with workers. It's a two-way street. The supervisor needs to provide instruction and ensure that safe work practices are always followed. The new worker needs to have the supervisor close by so they can ask questions and report any unsafe working conditions. For more information on young or new worker rights and responsibilities, go to the Ministry of Labour website at www.gov.on.ca/lab/english/hs/new_workers.html or the WorkSmartOntario website at www.worksmartontario.gov.on.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