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WCB Breaks the Silence About Workplace Safety

New mime campaign targets young workers

May 8, 2009 (Halifax, NS) – When people don’t talk about workplace safety, people can get hurt.

For young workers, their parents and their employers, that’s the message behind the WCB of Nova Scotia’s latest campaign aiming to raise awareness about the importance of young people’s safety on the job.

The campaign’s central character is a mime. As the quintessential symbol of silence, mimes represent the dangers when workers and employers don’t talk about safety.


“To reach young people with a message about safety rights, we know we need to engage them on their own terms – in an intriguing way that isn’t preachy, but that helps foster safe behaviours at work,” said Shelley Rowan, VP of Strategy and Employee Engagement with the WCB.  “Our campaign aims to help them understand their rights on the job, and to help them speak up when they feel unsafe.”

Last year almost 900 young Nova Scotians (ages 16 – 24) were seriously injured at work to the point they needed time off to recover. Sadly, in 2008, 29 Nova Scotians died at work , including a 20-year old who drowned when a vessel capsized, and a 22-year-old who died in a workplace explosion.

Recent research shows that only 27 per cent of parents regularly talk to their kids about safety in their part-time or summer jobs.  While nine in 10 youth consider safety important or critical on the job, only slightly more than half say they heard from their employers about safety when they started their job.

By personifying silence about safety, the new campaign encourages young people to ask questions and talk to their supervisor if anything about their job feels unsafe, while reminding employers about the importance of proper orientation and training.

“In everyday life, if someone asked you to do something unsafe, you would have no problem refusing,” said Rowan. “But in a workplace, people tend to clam up, for a variety of reasons: service rush, lack of training, not wanting to rock the boat. All too often, it takes someone getting hurt for anyone to notice that ‘the way it’s always been done’ isn’t necessarily the way it should be.” 

Appearing at movie theatres in Halifax, Dartmouth, Truro, New Glasgow and Sydney, and in other locations across the province, mimes portraying a range of injuries kick off the campaign on Friday evening, and throughout this weekend. Rolling out over the summer, both online and in traditional media, the campaign will include social media, print ads, street teams, and events to reach young workers.

“Our hope is that by arming young workers with information and empowering them to stand up for their rights, and by reminding employers about the importance of proper training and orientation, we’ll reduce the number of young people hurt on the job, and prepare them for a career of working safely,” said Rowan.

To learn how to speak up about safety and to find out more about the campaign, visit

About the Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia: The Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia (WCB) is committed to keeping Nova Scotians safe and secure from workplace injury. The WCB provides workplace injury insurance for more than 18,000 employers, representing about 300,000 workers across the province. The WCB sets the standard for workplace injury insurance by informing and inspiring Nova Scotians in the prevention of workplace injury. If an injury occurs, the WCB supports those whose lives it touches by championing a timely return to safe and healthy work.



For more information or to coordinate an interview, please contact:

Julie Trites
Communications Advisor
Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia
902.220.0616 (cell)