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BACKGROUNDER

Blitz Targets New and Young Workers

  • Issued: May 13, 2015
  • Content last reviewed: May 2015
  • See also: Bulletin

Hazards that could affect new and young workers will be the focus of an enforcement blitz this summer.

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

Between May 1 and August 31, 2015, Ministry of Labour inspectors will visit industrial sector workplaces across Ontario, focusing on the safety of new and young workers. Their goal will be to prevent injuries and deaths.

Examples of safety issues 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
  • Provide proper safety measures, such as machine guarding devices, eyewash fountains, guardrails and lifting devices
  • Comply with the statutory requirements for workplace Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSC) or health and safety representatives (HSRs), and failure to 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 2009 and 2013, 30 young workers aged 15 to 24 died in work-related incidents, according to Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) statistics.

During the same period, 30,000 young workers received injuries resulting in lost time at work, according to WSIB claims.

In 2013, more than 6,000 young workers received injuries resulting in lost time at work.

In 2013, many of the injured young workers aged 15 to 19 years old were food counter attendants and kitchen helpers. For injured 20 to 24 year olds, many were labourers in processing, manufacturing and utilities.

The most common work-related injuries involving young workers were sprains and strains. The majority of lost-time claims approved by the WSIB involved young workers being struck by objects and equipment.

Blitz focus

The blitz will focus on safety of:

  • Young workers aged 14 to 24 and
  • New workers who are on the job for less than six months or assigned to a new job. 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
  • Workers who are assigned new jobs in the same workplace in which they previously performed other work
  • Student workers, co-op placements or apprentices
  • Unpaid secondary school students who are participating in a work experience program, authorized by the school board that operates the school in which the students are enrolled
  • Other unpaid learners participating in a program approved by a post-secondary institution
  • Unpaid trainees who are not employees for the purposes of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 but who are covered by the Occupational Health and Safety Act

Ministry inspectors will place special emphasis on the safety of new and young workers in the industrial sector.

In particular, industrial inspectors will focus on the following sectors:

  • farming operations
  • agricultural services
  • tourism, hospitality and recreation
  • retail
  • vehicle sales and service
  • wholesale
  • automotive
  • food, beverage and tobacco
  • sawmills & logging

Ministry inspectors will visit 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, by the employer 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. 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.

New and Young Worker Information

For more information, visit the:

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

Workplace Safety and Insurance Board’s website for young workers with tips on starting a new job and dealing with unsafe workplaces.

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

The Workers Health & Safety Centre is Ontario’s designated occupational health and safety training provider.

Craig MacBride, Minister’s Office, 416-326-7709
William Lin, Communications Branch, 416-326-7405

ontario.ca/labour-news
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