Protect Your New Employees


One certain way to protect your recruitment investment is to protect your new workers.

Many HR professionals are aware that younger workers get workplace injuries more often than older workers, and because of that, many HR departments have young worker awareness (YWA) training programs. Many HR professionals, however, are unaware that all new workers are more susceptible to injuries, and not just young workers. In fact, some research states that not only do young workers and new workers get hurt more often, but they get hurt earlier on the job as well.

According to the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA), “New and young workers in Ontario are four times more likely to be injured during the first month of employment than at any other time.”

Four times more likely to get injured in the first four weeks! This is an incredibly alarming statistic, and it is not just applicable to young new workers; it is all new workers that are getting injured at a higher rate (click here to read in greater detail), and HR departments must take notice.

Some jurisdictions are taking note of this safety concern and are addressing it in their provincial Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) legislation, such as in British Columbia, under sections 3.22 to 3.25 of their Workers Compensation Board (WCB) safety regulations, which specifically address what is required for young and new workers’ safety training. Click here to learn more about the safety requirements for young new workers in BC.

Employers are concerned about how hard it is to recruit and retain good employees, but perhaps if employers did more OHS training during employee orientation and on-boarding, they would not be losing their young and new workers in the first month of their employment.

Discussion Questions:

1. Research the OHS legislation in your jurisdiction. Identity if there are any specific laws or regulations regarding the specific training of young and new workers.

2. Review the BC OHS regulations that pertain to young and new workers (click here for link). Review the requirements and develop an outline of a safety orientation program that would meet its legal requirements.

Pressure and Support For Youth Safety


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.

Click here to read about the summer safety blitz announced in London, Ontario.

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.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How do businesses benefit from promoting programs like Youth Safety Days?
  2. What are the injury and fatality rates for young workers in your province?
  3. What programs are in place to prevent and reduce harm to this targeted group of workers?
  4. 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?
  5. What do you do to promote safe work practices at work?

You Are Never Too Young For Health And Safety

Woman holding boxes

Do you remember the excitement of starting your first job? Perhaps it was working at a summer camp in the kitchen ‘dish-pit’, bussing tables at a restaurant, delivering newspapers in your neighbourhood or working as a cashier at the local grocery store. With this first job came your first pay-cheque and the pride of saving for something that you could buy with your own well-earned money. Hopefully these are positive memories for you of your first steps into the world of ‘adult’ work.

As part of your first job do you remember receiving Health and Safety training? This part of your memory may not be as clear because, unfortunately, many young workers are not provided with the necessary introductions to working safely.

All workers, especially inexperienced workers, need to be protected by legislative requirements and by their employer. Someone on their very first job needs more care and attention devoted to their personal safety. As such, it is fundamental that the employer provides resources, training and support to emphasize and prioritize how to work safely.

Workplace Safety North is an excellent on-line resource for employers. It provides up-to-date safety information, promotional materials, Ministry of Labour alerts and valuable prevention tips for Northern Ontario industries. It also provides a comprehensive overview of the requirements for employers to protect young workers in any industry. This material includes two very compelling video clips.

The first relates the tragic story of 18-year-old David Ellis who was killed on the job on his second day of work. Rob Ellis, David’s father, speaks eloquently and painfully about the circumstances and the impact of his son’s death. It is powerful viewing.

The second clip provides an orientation for young workers that any employer can use as part of their introductory health and safety resources. This is a useful and necessary tool for any workplace.

Click here to review Workplace Safety North’s young worker resources.

If you keep your younger self in mind, finding your own way through your early work experience, perhaps it will help you to help others as you develop your own workplace Health and Safety resources.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When and how will you use the young worker safety orientation clip as part of a new employee orientation program?
  2. Why do you think an employer should pay particular attention and provide more support to young workers with regard to health and safety practices?
  3. What types of health and safety training did you receive on your first job? What would you do differently if you were the employer?