04/16/2004

Young and New Workers

While getting and starting a new job may be foremost in a young or new worker's
mind - getting injured is often farthest. Young workers in particular just
don't expect it to happen; yet too often it does.

Why are young workers particularly vulnerable to occupational injury or
illness? The reasons vary. Young people may sometimes be unrealistic about
their own mortality. They are eager to impress and accept new challenges. And
as inexperienced workers, they may not know or understand the hazards in the
workplace or how to avoid injury, and may be reluctant to ask questions.


Young or new workers - things you need to know

  • Know that all workers have a legal right to a safe work environment.
    Your employer has a responsibility to protect you, and knows it! So when you
    start a new job, understand your rights and don't be afraid to ask questions:

    • What are the dangers of my job?
    • Are there any other hazards (noise, chemicals, radiation) that I
      should know about?
    • Will I receive job safety training? When?
    • Do you have safety meetings?
    • Is there any safety gear I'll be expected to wear? Will I receive
      training in how to use it? When?
    • Will I be trained in emergency procedures (fire, chemical spill)?
      When?
    • Where are fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and other emergency
      equipment located?
    • What do I do if I get hurt? Who is the first aid person?
    • What are my health and safety responsibilities?
    • Who do I ask if I have a health or safety question?

Employers can help keep young and new workers safe

Workers new to the workplace need to be trained before starting any job. They
need clear, frequent instructions over the first few weeks. Some new workers
may be overwhelmed with instructions at first and need to hear the information
repeated more than once.

In addition to providing training, employers must make it clear to young
workers that if ever they don't know or are unsure of something, it's perfectly
okay to ask. The sooner everyone starts thinking about the job in a
safety-minded way, the better.

Employers should consider whether a job is suitable for a young worker before
assigning it. Jobs that require long training times, a high degree of skill or
a great deal of responsibility, or risky tasks - such as working alone or with
hazardous chemicals - are usually better suited to more experienced workers.


Sometimes, due to a lack of understanding, a young worker may decide to "help
out" another worker during slow times or make changes to a job in unexpected
and possibly risky ways. While they may mean well, young workers need close
supervision to ensure they stick to established - and safe - work procedures.


There are resources available for young workers, parents, employers, or
teachers that provide information that can help everyone to understand why it
is important to work safely, and to help keep new and young workers safe on the
job.

Further Information


AplusA-online.de - Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety