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.

Safety News You Can Use


A baking company was fined $60,000 after a worker was injured while cleaning an overhead conveyor on a cookie production line.

A Ministry of Labour inspector found that the conveyor wasn’t stopped when the worker was cleaning the line. This violated a safety regulation.

To learn more, read here.

SAFE Work Manitoba Launches Young Worker Injury Prevention Strategy

SAFE Work Manitoba has launched a Young Worker Injury Prevention Strategy that will focus on the almost 5,000 injuries sustained by workers aged 15-24 each year.

The group of stakeholders involved in this initiative includes employers, educators, families and young workers. The program will be implemented over the next three years with the goal of creating safety awareness around keeping young workers safe on the job.

Read more about the strategy here.


Young Workers on Your Summer Payroll?: What You Need to Know


Do you employ young workers for the summer? If so, you need to ensure you’re doing all you can to keep these typically inexperienced workers safe.

The CCOHS (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety) reminds employers that they may be a young worker’s first boss, and it’s important that they teach these young workers about job hazards and how to stay safe.

To better understand young workers, CCOHS offers these facts:

  • Young people tend to take risks and are unrealistic about their own mortality.
  • Take care to caution your employee about potential hazards and negative outcomes.
  • Young people may be reluctant to ask questions for fear of appearing unknowledgeable. Make sure they understand that their first job priority is to ask questions when they are unsure.
  • Due to lack of understanding, a young worker may decide to make changes to the job in unexpected and possibly risk ways. Be sure they are closely supervised and stick to recognized and safe work procedures.

Training is very important when any new employee joins your workforce. It’s equally vital when that new employee is also a young worker.

Follow these CCOHS suggestions on providing proper training to young workers:

  • Show them how to perform the tasks safely, repeating parts of the procedures if necessary.
  • Watch the worker perform the tasks the first time, making sure to correct any mistakes.
  • Allow the worker to repeat the tasks until they are comfortable with the routine, and don’t have any more questions.
  • Continue to monitor workers to make sure they are doing their tasks properly.

What are you doing to help keep your young workers safe on the job?

The 411 On Young Workers


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.

Young Workers: Safety Training

Young workers

Safety training can never start early enough. Most jurisdictions have instituted training programs at the high school level which integrate and partner with local school boards.

Alberta, B.C. and Ontario structure the programs as a path toward apprenticeship. Students sign up as interns and then spend time both in class and at training centres learning basic skills. Safety training is the first class and it’s something repeated throughout the program.

The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, Local 1946 in London, Ontario, has just completed construction of their new offices and training facility and part of the curriculum will be devoted to high schoolers.

Kevin Hoy, Local 1946 coordinator said the safety training starts immediately on commencement. “Right off the start we get WMIS Fall arrest training, falls being the biggest risk, then chemical burns. Then things like scissor lift training and scaffolding and swing stage.”

The in-house training allows for a controlled environment and fewer distractions. Basic training for young and new workers seems to work best when it includes experiential learning opportunities.

“With scaffolding, which is big for us given we lost four people in a collapse in Toronto in 2009, for example, sometimes it’s better to let them make mistakes. I was watching a group of kids put up scaffolding and they were doing it wrong but we waited until the end to point it out. They weren’t happy because they had to take it all down and do it again – which was a few hours – but they’ll probably never forget the lesson,” says Hoy.

The benefit of basic training can never be over emphasized but there’s also a bigger picture to consider. Some of the key areas identified in reaching out to the young/new worker segment are leadership and behavioural modification.

According to Jeffery Lyth, CRSP, CHSC Safety Advisor/Regional Safety Coordinator at the BCCSA: “There are rules and we live in a rule based society. You may not break the rules at the job site but you might speed driving to work. The issue is that we’re really not good as a whole being complaint with the rules.”

In Lyth’s experience the danger is that safety rules can incrementally erode for a variety of reasons, among them is the misplaced belief that getting the job done faster is beneficial to the worker and the company even if it entails unsafe behaviour.

“A worker may become more compliant with rules if the crew or organization culture holds safety as an integrated value,” he says. “So that they will stop and tell the young worker that while he may have saved 15 minutes by jumping over a barrier to get somewhere it was safer to walk around. That there’s no value in risking safety for work.”

The Culture of Safety

Key to that culture of safety, Lyth argues, is leadership as opposed to management.

  • Management directs assignment and assesses quality and acceptability of completion within specified time lines.
  • Leadership demonstrates forward thinking and holistic thinking, imparts cultural values and sets a tone.

If safety is tantamount within the leadership it is a value which is better imparted to the entire organization or crew. As such, Lyth says, leadership training is an important facet of any Health and Safety program. He runs a Supervisors Bootcamp to ensure supervisors not only get the right training, they develop the right thought processes.

Some of the ideas covered in the course include advice on how to assist employers to tackle the most important and emerging issues facing business operations today such as:

  •  Greater productivity and quality outcomes;
  •  Greater safety program effectiveness;
  •  Greater protection from the risks associated with Bill 14 with bullying & harassment prevention, and psychological well-being in the workplace.

Participants are given a leadership ‘tool kit’ comprised of the simplest but most effective leadership concepts, from which they can effectively build and develop their own leadership style, specific to themselves and their environment.

They will also take self-assessment questionnaires and participate in exercises based on the actual crews they lead. Participants will leave the session with their baselines established, reference materials and course content, and specific yet practical leadership goals set for them to work towards.

Training supervisors is often overlooked, Lyth adds: “We just looked at a study which found the average manager or supervisor didn’t get leadership training until an age of 42 years old.”

Tailoring the message of safety to young workers is a critical part of safety training since young workers respond differently than older workers given their general inexperience at any workplace.


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.”

Communication is Key for Workplace Safety

With the age gap between managers and young workers widening, safety in the workplace is no longer just about having the right gear. Communication is key, but it’s not always easy.

Managers came up the ranks with a certain set of expectations made of them along the way. Now in positions of leadership, managers often find themselves unable to reach young workers in the ways their own experience has trained them to manage.

The rift is worrisome – but not insurmountable says team building workshop leader Linda Kash, who is also one of Canada’s most recognizable actresses and a Second City alum. Kash has had memorable roles on blockbuster hits like Seinfeld, Cinderella Man and Waiting for Guffman, but is perhaps best known for her role as The Philadelphia Cream Cheese Angel.

Kash was a surprise guest presenter at the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering (CSSE) 2012 Conference in Niagara Falls, participating in the Seton Canada sponsored Taking the Boring out of Safety Training workshop.

The workshop was a presentation by Professors Cathy Denomme and Deborah Woodman, along with safety expert Patt Marquis, who jumped at the chance to include Kash in their workshop. Kash lead the group through exercises designed to break the ice and open up the lines of communication, something she has done for a variety of organizations.

“There’s often a disconnect between management and their teams,” Kash points out, “Good communication is important… rules and regulations exist for employee safety but it can erode trust.”

Kash recently began leading workshops in the high stakes worlds of construction, mining and manufacturing where poor communication doesn’t just cause tension, it can cost lives. Her main focus is to speak to the disconnect between management and their team. In a one to two-hour workshop, Kash leads exercises that are designed to “make the group feel as a whole and help participants trust their instincts to get along together.”

The idea is that as participants work together through various exercises, they learn important social skill sets and listening skills that cause them to begin interacting as a team without even knowing it at first.

The focus turns from blaming each other to getting the job done. And everyone has fun along the way.

Kash will be guest video blogging from time to time here on the website, offering communications and teambuilding tips to help you better engage your workers in the safety message.

Young Workers: Training The ‘Nintendo Generation’

As the Baby Boom generation prepares to retire, the biggest issue facing the mining industry is how to bridge gaps in the physical skill set of young workers, or what employers call the “Nintendo Generation”.

Training young workers “is the biggest safety issue in mining,” says workplace safety expert Alan Quilley, President of Safety Results, an Alberta-based job safety consulting firm.

That concern can be extended to any industry where mechanical know-how is essential.

Young workers whose problem solving skills were largely developed in front of a computer face an information gap when they move into jobs that require manual skills.

“My generation of workers entered the work world with much more exposure to mechanical skills,” says Quilley. “My father taught me how to rewire a house when I was a teenager. I have five children. Not one of them has shown any interest whatsoever in taking apart an engine.

“That’s not to say they’re not capable. But they have not grown up in that atmosphere.”

Quilley maintains that young workers entering mining and other industries are better educated, smarter and “more than capable” of being trained to do the job safely.

“We have to be patient,” he says. “We can’t just wish the gap did not exist. It’s wrong to say they ‘know nothing’.”

Young workers’ “experience gap” presents management with fresh opportunities to create a safer work environment, Quilley argues. These advantages include:

  • No ‘fossilized’ bad work habits, short cuts, small acts of carelessness learned long ago and brought to the job
  • A new style of problem-solving skills, greater familiarity with technology and an ability to adapt quickly to technological changes
  • Attitudes that embrace ‘personal’ learning styles and are resistant to one-size-fits-all, top-down training

“We need to ask young workers: what works for you? What do you need to know to feel safe on the job? And let them reflect on that,” says Quilley.

“It might seem effective to just make a safety training DVD and away we go. But it’s not effective. Young workers don’t respond to a safety rule lecture. It’s a more organic, problem-solving process.”