From our Occupational Health and Safety studies, we have learned that the Internal Responsibility System (IRS) is integral to ensuring that every day our colleagues and co-workers come to work with an expectation of safety and that every day they leave work with that expectation fulfilled. Under the IRS each of us has a personal responsibility to ensure that other individuals in the workplace are both working safely and promoting safe work practices. These other individuals include new workers, young workers, and summer student workers. The provision of safety support alone, however, is not enough to keep our young co-workers safe. The supportive responsibilities go hand in hand with pressure from government intervention to make sure safe work practices for youth are implemented and reinforced.
Every year, provincial programs focus on ensuring that employers are providing safe workplaces for new and young worker during the summer months. This summer time ‘safety blitz’ includes the pressure of inspections by government representatives, who have the authority to fine and impose safety-related orders when employers are found to be non-compliant with safe work practices.
Along with this type of pressure, supportive education programs targeting schools with young workers, continue beyond the summer months.
Click here to read about more about youth safety and watch a news clip about Youth Safety Education Day in Saskatchewan.
The need for both pressure and support comes from the unfortunate reality of young worker injury and fatality rates. As noted in the interview promoting Youth Safety Education Day in Saskatchewan, 50% of young workers are injured on the job within the first six months of work and worse, there is an average of three fatalities per year for youth on the job in the same province. Given that Ontario’s prior year summer safety blitz resulted in ‘7,675 orders and requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act,’ it is clear that the need for safety at work for young workers is a cross-provincial concern.
More importantly, under the IRS program and especially for young workers, it is clear that the need for both pressure and support for safety at work is everyone’s concern.
- How do businesses benefit from promoting programs like Youth Safety Days?
- What are the injury and fatality rates for young workers in your province?
- What programs are in place to prevent and reduce harm to this targeted group of workers?
- What types of Health and Safety protocols do you advise an employer to put into place to ensure that summer students and young workers stay safe at work?
- What do you do to promote safe work practices at work?