This Wednesday November 7 is Canada’s Take Our Kids To Work (TOKTW) Day – an annual event sponsored by The Learning Partnership, a national charitable organization that supports public education.
The idea of an annual event to help Grade 9 students begin to think about career options began in 1994. Today, more than 250,000 Grade 9 students across Canada participate in workplace events supported by more than 75,000 participating employers.
In some workplaces, TOKTW Day features special programming and work simulations for visiting students. Others simply allow students into the workplace to job-shadow and observe.
Some key health and safety considerations should be kept in mind. This is all the more important in light of a tragic 2000 incident in which two teenagers participating in a TOKTW event were accidentally killed.
Some helpful hints:
- Employers should make health and safety considerations a top priority before designing a program for TOKTW Day.
- Students should be oriented to the workplace when they first arrive and have the day’s program fully explained to them.
- Students should be properly supervised at all times.
- TOKTW participants are not covered by legislation insuring the workplace safety of regular employees (eg. Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Act). To that end, employers should check with their liability insurers to make sure they have adequate coverage for student visitors.
- Students should be equipped (and have explained to them) with proper personal protective equipment (PPE) – such as helmets, safety footwear, gloves, ear plugs, eye protection, et cetera – before they access workplace areas.
- Students should be prohibited from handling or accessing hazardous materials, power tools and motorized vehicles.
- If it is decided that your workplace is just too hazardous by nature to permit student visitors, it would be a useful workplace safety exercise to design a program for interested students that points out these hazards and still gives them a sense of what the workplace is like. Get creative!
With proper planning and attention to health and safety considerations, Take Our Kids to Work Day can afford a rich opportunity to make safety a top concern for kids, as they embark on planning their careers.
Have fun and stay safe!