The 411 On Young Workers

Youngworkers

Training and compliance are essential at all levels of experience, but young workers are statistically more likely to be involved in accidents. Newly published results from the Ministry of Labour’s 2014 New and Young Workers Blitz revealed workers are three times more likely to be injured during their first month on the job than at any other time. Here’s the latest buzz around young workers. Do your part to help this critical sector of the workforce thrive!

  • The Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives recently released a report concluding that young people need more student aid and more help transitioning into the workforce. The key takeaways were that work experience, gender issues for women, student debt, and poor information can prevent young people from achieving stable employment after graduation. It was suggested that companies modify their qualification requirements to better include young people with less experience.
  • A contracting company in the Calgary region is facing several OH&S charges, including inappropriately employing a person younger than 15 years old, following a July incident in which a 14-year-old employee fell from a roof. The province also came under fire over the summer when a 15-year-old was killed in a conveyor accident near Wintering Hills.
  • Responding to increases in non-unionized, part-time and contract work, a new non-profit hopes to help workers understand their rights, navigate legal and bureaucratic systems, and file insurance claims. The Sudbury Workers Education and Advocacy Centre specifically aims to help young workers understand their rights and protect themselves from being taken advantage of by employers. The organization will present educational workshops in high schools throughout the year.

Opening up opportunities to young workers can certainly be beneficial, but it comes with the additional responsibility of ensuring they have been properly trained and educated BEFORE they go to work. Learning on the job is not sufficient.

Keep in mind that everyone learns differently, and at different speeds. Also remember how valuable seasoned employees can be in sharing their stories and guidance with those just starting out.

Pain Awareness & Training: Just What the Doctor Ordered

ChronicPain

Participate in National Pain Awareness Week (11/2 – 11/8) by ensuring you and your workers understand pain management and medication. Incorporating these topics into your safety training program will benefit and protect everyone. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Ensure workers are trained on –

  • Recognizing hazards, signs, and symptoms of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) & other injuries
  • Reporting a concern in the workplace and/or simply asking for help
  • Workplace policies and procedures that will help reduce or eliminate injury risk
  • Proper equipment operations and procedures
  • How and when to take breaks
  • Ergonomics

Ensure supervisors are trained on –

  • Establishing a response program and commitment to a supportive, open culture
  • MSD prevention
  • Injury and incident reporting procedures
  • Recognizing, identifying, controlling, and eliminating hazards
  • Designing & installing new equipment and corresponding employee training

Once a chronic injury has been sustained, pain medication is sometimes the only option. According to the 2012 Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey, about 410,000 Canadians reported abusing prescription drugs. Health Canada recently removed “moderate” pain from prescription narcotic labels in order to clarify that they are for “severe” pain only. Even with a valid prescription and correct dosages, painkillers can compromise worker safety and the financial security of your business. As Canada celebrates National Addiction Awareness Week beginning on 11/17, please keep in mind these potential pitfalls –

  • Painkillers compromise safety
  • Workers prescribed opioids have significantly higher workers’ compensation claims
  • Employers play an important role in helping their employees seek treatment
  • Use of painkillers can delay recovery and return to work
  • Using painkillers can increase the likelihood of disability claims
  • Strong drug-free workplace programs, comprehensive benefits packages, easily accessible employee assistance programs and company-wide education help reduce risk

Aging Workers: The Landscape Ahead

Aging

Statistics Canada has predicted that by 2021, nearly one out of four in the labour force (roughly 24%) could be 55 years of age or over. While older workers tend to be better at recognizing hazards, they incur more severe consequences and longer recovery times when they do get injured. Repetitive motion issues like musculoskeletal injuries are especially common among older workers. Recent reports have shown that many aging workers are putting off retirement and staying in the work force longer, which could present some of the following health & safety concerns:

  • Strength, range of motion, respiratory, and cardiovascular limitations: Older workers tend to have decreased capacity in these areas, which may restrict physical capabilities or contribute to injury and illness if limitations are not recognized.
  • Slips, trips & falls: Accidents related to loss of balance and posture tend to occur more often with age. Tasks involving the following should be reserved for younger workers: joint movements at extreme angles, slippery or unstable surfaces, unexpected bumps or shocks.
  • Sleep & body temperature regulation: The body’s decreased ability to regulate sleep and internal temperatures can present safety risks if older workers are scheduled to work at night or in extreme temperatures.
  • Vision & hearing changes: Older workers face higher risk of injury due to difficulty seeing and hearing in certain conditions.
  • Cognitive functioning: As mental capacity decreases with age, so do learning, thinking, and reaction speeds. However, what older workers lack in speed, they make up for in experience and expertise!

To learn more about specific health and safety needs for an aging workforce, take a look at this article from IHSA Magazine.

When baby boomers do begin to retire, replacing them with new workers comes with a whole different set of challenges. Construction, trucking, and electricity & renewable energy industries are expected to grow significantly in Canada in coming years, which could present as many setbacks as opportunities. The cost of training new workers can be high, and statistics show that their lack of experience and discretion leads to frequent hand and eye injuries.

Whether your facility is facing one or both of these scenarios, remember to make safety and compliance the priority. Ensure that each and every worker, regardless of age, is properly trained and suited for his or her position, and make adjustments where necessary.

New OHSA Training Requirement for Ontario Employers

Safety TrainingStarting July 1, 2014, Ontario businesses will be required to ensure their employees have completed an OHSA (Occupational Health and Safety Awareness) safety training program. The new regulation requires that supervisors and workers take a basic program covering updated industrial safety and health awareness standards, and that these trainings will be documented.

If you haven’t made plans for the transition yet,  Health and Safety Ontario recommends that you start by comparing your team’s current level of safety and health awareness with the new material. After you discover what training is needed, create an action plan to provide the needed education. Don’t forget to document participation, provide the trainees written proof, and complete all activities by July 1, 2014.

To make training your employees a breeze, take advantage of Seton CA’s WHMIS video training kit. This complete package consists of materials you need to teach your staff about Canada’s Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) such as:

  • a 35-minute educational video in DVD
  • printed supplementary materials
  • five self-study guides with quizzes
  • a WHMIS poster
  • five wallet cards
  • five certificates
  • an administrator’s guide

Approved by the Industrial Accident Prevention Association and Liftow, these learning materials cover:

  • WHMIS basics
  • workplace hazards
  • hazard symbols
  • material safety data sheets
  • controlled products
  • training requirements and responsibilities

With Seton CA’s WHMIS video training kit, you’re one quick and easy step away from complying with Ontario’s regulations and cultivating a safe and healthy working environment!