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BACKGROUNDER

New and Young Worker Safety Focus of Blitz

  • Issued: May 10, 2013
  • Revised: July 4, 2013
  • Content last reviewed: July 2013
  • See also: Young Workers

A summer safety blitz is being held at workplaces with new and young workers.

The blitz is part of the province’s Safe At Work Ontario enforcement initiative, launched in June 2008.

Between May 1 and August 31, 2013, Ministry of Labour inspectors are visiting workplaces across Ontario, focusing on the safety of new and young workers. Their goal is to prevent injuries and deaths.

It is the sixth year in a row that a new and young worker blitz is being held.

Examples of non-compliance involving new and young workers include failure of employers to:

  • inform, instruct and ensure supervision of workers and failure to prepare a written occupational health and safety policy
  • ensure equipment has guarding devices if required and eyewash fountains are available if needed
  • provide instruction on safe material handling techniques and safe operation of lifting devices
  • follow required procedures for ladder use and care, fire protection and for protection against electrical hazards
  • ensure compressed gas cylinders are secure when in use and being stored
  • comply with the statutory requirements for workplace Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSC) or health and safety representatives and ensure JHSC meetings and workplace inspections take place

Inspectors will take enforcement action, as appropriate, in response to any violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations.

Background

New and young workers in Ontario are three times more likely to be injured during the first month of employment than at any other time.

Between 2006 and 2011, 39 young workers aged 15 to 24 died in work-related incidents, according to Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) statistics.

During the same period, more than 52,000 young workers suffered injuries resulting in lost time at work, according to WSIB claims statistics.

Many of the injured young workers were employed as labourers in processing, manufacturing and utilities as well as retail salespeople, food counter attendants and kitchen helpers.

The most common work-related injuries involving young workers were sprains and strains.

The majority of lost-time claims approved by the WSIB occurred when young workers were struck by objects and equipment.

Blitz Focus

The blitz will focus on the safety of:

  • young workers aged 14 to 24 and
  • new workers who are on the job for less than six months or existing workers assigned to a new job in the same workplace. This includes both young workers and those 25 and older.

New workers include:

  • any new hire, either permanent or temporary, including supervisors with or without experience in the industry where they are working
  • existing workers who are assigned to new jobs in the same workplace
  • student workers, co-op placements or apprentices who meet the statutory definition of “worker”
  • seasonal workers

Ministry inspectors will place special emphasis on the safety of new and young workers in industrial and health care sectors. In particular, industrial inspectors will focus on service, manufacturing, transportation, farming operations, logging, hotels, motels and film and television workplaces.

Health care inspectors will focus on community care services and community care residences.

Ministry inspectors will identify workplaces, including those:

  • with a high incidence of lost-time injuries among new and young workers
  • identified as a high-priority workplace by the ministry
  • known to have highly hazardous processes and equipment
  • where complaints have been received and there is a history of non-compliance
  • where new and young workers are often employed on a regular or seasonal basis and/or
  • not previously visited by the ministry

Priorities

Inspectors will focus on the following key priorities:

  • Information, instruction and supervision: Inspectors will check to ensure new and young workers are being given the required information, instruction (e.g. training) and supervision to protect their health and safety when starting a job and are receiving supervision, as required. For example, new and young workers should be informed of the requirements involving the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS). They should also be aware of their rights and obligations, including their right to refuse work that could endanger themselves or others.
  • Minimum age requirements: Inspectors will check whether workers meet minimum age requirements. Workers must be at least:
    • 14 years old to work in industrial workplaces such as offices, stores, arenas and restaurant serving areas
    • 15 years old to work in most factories, including restaurant kitchens, automotive service garages, produce and meat preparation areas, laundries, warehouses, and shipping and receiving areas in grocery stores and
    • 16 years old to work in logging operations
  • Internal Responsibility System: Inspectors will check that requirements for the workplace’s internal responsibility system, such as Joint Health and Safety Committees or health and safety representatives, where required, are being complied with at the workplace.
  • Safety measures: Inspectors will check that required safety measures and procedures are in place to prevent injuries and occupational illness. This may include checking on compliance with requirements for safe practices for materials handling and mechanical device usage to prevent ergonomic and musculoskeletal injuries, procedures for specific equipment such as using guarding devices on machinery and the safe use of lifting devices, ladders and personal protective equipment to prevent falls. In addition, inspectors will check to ensure employers are meeting requirements for protecting workers from workplace violence and harassment.

Safe At Work Ontario

Sector- and hazard-specific inspection blitzes are an important feature of the Safe At Work Ontario enforcement initiative.

Since being launched in June 2008, the province’s team of more than 400 health and safety inspectors conducted more than 345,000 visits to workplaces, issued more than 560,000 compliance orders and conducted more than 50 proactive inspection blitzes.

Information For Young and New Workers

For more information, visit the:

Young worker portal on the Ministry of Labour’s website.

Ministry of Labour’s WorkSmartOntario website for information on workplace health and safety and workers’ employment rights and obligations.

Ministry of Labour’s WorkSmartCampus health and safety information geared to post-secondary students.

Ontario’s Occupational Health & Safety Partners, for training, health and safety products, research.

Matt Blajer, Communications Branch, 416-326-7405

ontario.ca/labour-news
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