When it comes to young workers consider this.

They’re kids – just 18 to 24 – raw and inexperienced. They’re probably overwhelmed, afraid to ask questions and intimidated by the workplace. Not that they’d show it.

And their safety is in your hands.

These young workers could be your kids. And while they’re enthusiastic and eager to learn, they need leadership as much as supervision. Most important, they need to know that you care about them. That’s how you'd want your kids treated on their first job.

These young workers are on your watch and in your care at work. They’re part of your work team. Your work family. So why not consider yourself a work parent? Look out for them when you can. Encourage their more experienced coworkers to feel a sense of responsibility and community for these kids. To help show them the ropes and make sure they’re safe.

After all, these workers have kids too.

Young workers are the most vulnerable in Canada’s workforce.

Here are the numbers. They need to change. And they can because you can do something to change them. And we’re here to help you.

In 2010, 31,000 young workers suffered injuries at work and most tragically, 23 young people were killed at work. Every hour of every single day in Canada, 4 or 5 young workers are injured at work, badly enough to book off.

Many of these accidents happen in the early weeks or months of a new job, when young workers safety is most fragile.

Here are some practical tips to help you safeguard your young workers:

1. Spend extra time explaining each job.
2. Provide training and be sure to closely supervise new and young workers.
3. Explain safety rules and make sure they’re followed. Be patient.
4. Explain the importance of prompt reporting of health and safety concerns.
5. Encourage discussion. Be open to any questions young workers may ask, especially about workplace health and safety. Be ready to offer advice.
6. Lead by example: wear required personal protective equipment and always reinforce the importance of working safely.
7. Give new workers a guided tour of the entire workplace.
8. Introduce new and young workers to key people in the organization, not only their coworkers, but especially the Health and Safety Manager, Health and Safety Committee members or Health and Safety Representative.
9. Continually remind workers of the importance of health and safety. Discuss safety.
10. Arrange for experienced, safety-conscious workers to coach and mentor new and young workers.
11. If safety rules are not being followed, find out why—and make sure they are followed!
12. Make sure your young workers understand their rights as well as their responsibilities.

As supervisors and senior managers, it’s vital that you never assume young workers new to the workforce know they have the right personal protective equipment for the job or that they understand the potential risks of a job. Think prevention. Discuss it with them. And encourage them to ask questions.

The best training is the training you give them on the job. It’s practical, hands-on, more vivid and graphic than any theory they may have learned in school.

When you take the personal responsibility of giving of yourself and ensuring young workers develop safe work habits, you’re preventing accidents and injuries. You’re investing in their future and the occupational health and safe future of your industry.

Please read our young worker articles and share your best young worker safety tips and strategies here. Discuss safety with your young employees. Listen to their concerns. Engage your own kids in safety talks. We want to hear how you’re doing.

Most of all, we all want to go home each night to our families. That’s why we work.

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