Safety News You Can Use


A social media campaign has launched in Ontario to help educate young workers about workplace safety.

Parachute has introduced #Safe4Life, where young workers can have a conversation about workplace safety concerns. The launch comes at a busy time in the workplace for young workers, who are working at their summer jobs.

Worker Suffers Hand Injury; Company Fined

A worker’s hand was permanently injured after it was pulled into machinery. As a result, a manufacturing company was fined $110,000 for the incident.

The worker attempted to remove a piece of grip tape on a powered roller and the worker’s hand was pulled into the pinch point. This occurred when the machine was running.

The manufacturer failed to ensure the machine had a guard in place to protect workers.

Learn more here.


Summer Jobs: How Ontario is Protecting Young Workers


As summer begins, so do the careers of many young workers who are entering the workforce for the very first time.

Inexperienced workers, including young workers, are at a greater risk of injury on the job. In response to that risk, the Ministry of Labour has introduced some new initiatives designed to protect young workers.

Those initiatives are:

  • Launch of two province-wide inspection blitzes on health and safety and employment standards.
  • Promotion of “It’s Your Job,” a province-wide online video contest that encourages young workers to voice their views on workplace rights.
  • Support of “Bring Safety Home,” a workplace safety and prevention services program that focuses on parents and networks of young workers.
  • Support #safe4life, a digital media campaign run by Parachute Canada.

These strategies to keep young workers safe are part of a larger Safe At Work Ontario initiative created to help prevent injuries and illnesses in the workplace.

When you need to provide workers with the supplies they need to stay safe on the job, count on Seton. Give us a call at 855-581-1218 or visit and we can help you select the safety products you need.

Young Workers: Accident Prevention

Young worker on construction site, selective focus on face

Young workers – defined by Statistics Canada as between 15 to 24 years old – and new workers – those either starting a second career or new Canadians who have less than six months on the job or are new to a task– are the most likely to be involved in an accident on a construction site.

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.

Between 2006 and 2010, 34 young workers died in work-related incidents, according to Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) statistics. During the same time period, more than 46,000 young workers received injuries resulting in lost time at work.

There are many reasons for this ranging from inexperience, poor training, and inadequate supervision to the inherent nature of the workers themselves who may be either more risk tolerant or be more likely to accept and bear risk because they wanted acceptance.

Accident Prevention

Preventing accidents among this demographic requires a combination of approaches which blend technology-driven training programs with face-to-face mentoring. It must also address the leadership training of direct field supervisors and the behavioural nature of young people.

These concepts are:

  • Knowledge (training, orientation, legal)
  • Leadership (transformational leadership through training)
  • Culture (everyone is responsible for safety, everyone goes home)
  • Empowerment (the right to say no, the right to ask questions without fear)

Among the best practices identified (above and beyond legal requirements for orientation, training and certification):

  • An onsite mentoring program which identifies new workers with a “green hand sticker” and volunteer experienced workers with a “gold hand” sticker (CSABC) where young workers are not stigmatized for asking questions and are not offended when experienced workers step in to offer instruction.
  • A program to train supervisors in leadership in contrast to management.
  • A concept to train supervisors to recognize higher risk personality traits and to work with groups to contain and mitigate those tendencies.
  • An online program which identifies risks associated with a particular job task or construction sector which then walks the trainee through them and requires them to answer questions to demonstrate learning.
  • Trades-led and school-partnered internship training programs in high schools which identify students thinking about careers in construction and begin with safety training programs (Ontario, Alberta, BC).
  • Specific young worker and new worker orientation and training programs.
  • Certificate program recognition for safety related behaviours.
  • Sector specific (roofing, electrical etc.) training programs for targeted workers.

Safety Awareness

Safety awareness is a function of age, experience, training and personality which is mitigated by the effect of knowledge, leadership, culture and empowerment.

Safety training and reinforcement is not only a basic legal requirement in all jurisdictions across Canada, it is also a moral requirement and imperative, as Jeffery Lyth, CRSP, CHSC Safety Advisor/Regional Safety Coordinator at the BCCSA notes, citing the safety sector mantra: “Everyone goes home safely.”

In traveling to China to give presentations at conferences on risks posed by large cohorts of migrant workers he notes:

“Marginalized workers include migrant workers and new and young workers and the risks are higher globally for this group no matter what the culture.”

He argues that the unique combination of the regulatory and insurance agencies in B.C. gives health and safety legislation, investigation and enforcement more power and reach.

All jurisdictions across Canada have minimum basic requirement for worker training. Some are mandatory; few are geared specifically to young workers.

Some have online programs which identify specific hazards and risks associated with specific jobs and jobsites. Some involve certification to establish a baseline of knowledge and awareness.

The Construction Safety Association of Ontario maps out requirements under Section 27 of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act and offers tips:

1) Give the new worker a copy of the company health and safety policy.
2) Explain the project and the worker’s duties.
3) Alert the worker to any hazards on site and the protective measures required.
4) Explain requirements for personal protective equipment.
5) Outline procedures for emergencies and accident reporting.
6) Show the worker where to find first aid kit, fire extinguishers, and other emergency equipment.
7) Introduce the new worker to his or her supervisor.
8) Show the new worker around the site.



Protecting Young Workers

Every day in Ontario, an average of 70 workers under the age of 25 are injured on the job, and some lose their lives. That’s three injured each hour.

Young workers – and new workers of any age – are often keen to learn and can bring new ideas and renewed energy to a workplace. But if you hire workers, you have obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to protect them.

“Young workers often can’t recognize health and safety hazards and hesitate to ask questions,” says George Gritziotis, the chief prevention officer at Ontario’s Ministry of Labour . “The truth is new and young workers are much more likely to be injured on the job. They need to be provided training and they need to be supervised.”

Seton Job Safety

Young Worker Safety: Memorial Quilt

Young Worker Safety

When Nova Scotia fabric artist Laurie Swim completed work on Breaking Ground, a quilted public memorial to the 1960 Hogg’s Hollow disaster and the five young Italian immigrant workers killed underground, she was convinced she had just finished one of the most heartrending projects of her career.

Almost immediately, Swim learned that what had happened in a subway tunnel more than forty years earlier was not a thing of the past. Workplaces remained potentially deadly for some workers. And in 21st Century Ontario, a dramatic number of those fatalities were young workers.

“The idea of a memorial quilt to young workers who had been killed on the job was suggested to me as a project. At the time, I wasn’t certain I wanted to undertake such an emotional task.

“But we had a teenaged son, who would soon be seeking summer employment.  Like all parents, we wanted him to be safe.”

And so began the process of building support, and eventually designing and sewing The Canadian Young Workers Memorial Quilt – an 18’ X 9’ quilted memorial to 100 young workers killed at work. The quilt consists of 10 panels, each containing the pictures and stories of 10 young workers. A 5’ X 9’ centerpiece – a young man with arms outstretched – used Laurie’s son, Jake, as a model.

Laurie secured a classroom in a boarded-up school in her neighborhood and work on the Young Workers Quilt began with a team of 20 volunteer quilters.

“As I read the case histories, emotions of anger, sympathy and grief passed over me,” Swim recalls. “These deaths mostly happened on the first days and weeks of the job, due to the young workers’ inexperience and the lack of training in situations where they were under-supervised.”

The quilt was a stunning reminder of the particular vulnerabilities of young workers. Each piece had the victim’s photograph printed on fabric, their history with details of how they died, their name and age and a personal token from the family stitched into the fabric. The quilt was unveiled at an emotional ceremony packed with tearful bereaved parents, at a downtown Toronto hotel in 2003.

Inspired by Laurie Swim’s art and forged by the families of young workers who died on the job, a non-profit organization was born. Called Threads of Life, it aims to increase awareness of workplace safety for all ages.

Threads of Life is the voice of victims of workplace tragedies – the families whose loved ones died or suffered life-altering injuries or occupational disease as a result of workplace accidents.

“The 1,400 families who are part of Threads of Life are just the tip of the iceberg,” says executive-director Shirely Hickman. In 1996, Hickman lost her 21-year-old son Tim in an explosion at the London, Ontario arena where he worked part-time.

“None of us who go out to speak about our experience would have ever envisioned ourselves as public speakers,” says Hickman.  But Threads of Life speakers tell their stories straight from the heart, with a powerful impact on their audiences.

The quilt, renamed the LifeQuilt by the group, is taken out occasionally for special appearances. It is now 10 years old, expensive to ship and in need of repair from all its travels.

Swim, who continues to craft huge quilted public memorials, wishes it were  ‘out there’ for the world to see, in a permanent display, much like the “Breaking Ground” memorial quilt, which is on permanent display in Toronto’s York Mills subway station, near the site of the Hoggs Hollow disaster.

“The Canadian Young Workers Memorial Quilt took the issue of young worker safety out of the closet,” says Swim. “It put the personal stories of young people killed on the job into the public realm through the testimony of their loved ones.”


FOOTNOTE: After 10 years of travel, the LifeQuilt is currently with a conservator for maintenance, while the partners of Threads of Life prepare to discuss how best to use it in future outreach efforts.

To honour the contribution her organization has made to families who have suffered from a workplace tragedy, Hickman and two Threads of Life volunteers, Lisa Kadosa and Eleanor Westwood, this year received Queen’s Diamond Jubilee awards. Hickman was nominated by Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters for her leadership in founding Threads of Life and for her “outstanding contributions in the field of workplace health and safety.”