Encouraging a Safety Culture for Young Workers

LABOUR/ADVANCED EDUCATION--Encouraging a Safety Culture for Young Workers
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As the school year comes to an end and more young people step into new workplaces, the Department of Labour and Advanced Education and WCB Nova Scotia are encouraging workers and employers to make workplace safety a priority.

For workers between the ages of 15 and 24, more than 40 per cent of all injuries happen between June and September. In the past five years, three young workers went to work and never came home.

In 2017, of the 23,952 workers injured in Nova Scotia WCB-covered workplaces, 3,179 were young workers and 527 of them were hurt seriously enough to need three days or more off work. While this number has steadily decreased from 647 in 2015, there is still progress to be made.

Youth are most often hurt working in retail and hospitality, and frequently hurt in manufacturing and construction. Being struck by an object and overexertion are the two most common causes of injury in young workers.

In 2013, Cody Ross was working as a heavy equipment operator on a drilling and blasting project when a heavy piece of steel fell on his hand. He was 26 at the time and just four months into his new job.

“It was terrifying not knowing if I lost my hand or fingers or how serious the damage was,” says Mr. Ross. 

The injury crushed his fingers and severed the thumb on his left and dominant hand. In the years since, Cody has had 14 surgeries and therapy to help him cope with the trauma. Unable to return to his former job, he decided on a career in occupational health and safety.

“I’ve been through it. I’m a walking example of what can happen,” says Mr. Ross. “I want to try to prevent these things from happening to anyone else.” 

“Everyone has a role to play when it comes to creating a safety culture – from parents, to employers, to workers,” said WCB Nova Scotia CEO Stuart MacLean. “Young workers are invaluable members of our workforce and the future of this province. Employers need to ensure all workers receive adequate safety training and understand their rights and responsibilities.

“Parents need to keep the conversation going at home, and I encourage workers to ask questions and make sure they only do something if they can do it safely.”  

For more information and resources on young worker safety, visit worksafeforlife.ca/youngworkers.

For young workers who have questions around employee rights, contact the Nova Scotia Labour Standards Division at the toll-free number, 1-888-315-0110 or visit novascotia.ca/lae/employmentrights.
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FOR BROADCAST USE:
     The Department of Labour and Advanced Education and WCB Nova Scotia are encouraging young workers and employers to make workplace safety a priority.
     For workers between the ages of 15 and 24, more than 40 per cent of all injuries happen between June and September.
     WCB Nova Scotia CEO Stuart MacLean says everyone has a role to play when it comes to creating a safety culture for young workers – from parents, to employers, to workers.
     For more information and resources on young worker safety, visit work safe for life DOT C-A slash young workers.

Media Contacts:
Shannon Kerr
                902-424-0847
                Cell: 902-717-6061
                Email: Shannon.Kerr@novascotia.ca
 Nicole Halloran
                WCB Nova Scotia
                Office: 902-491-8102
                Cell: 902-223-8901
                Email: Nicole.Halloran@wcb.ns.ca

More facts about young worker safety from WCB Nova Scotia:
- 22 per cent of all young worker claims in 2017 were from people under the age of 19
- On a five-year average, males account for close to 63 per cent of all registered claims, and 59 per cent of all time-loss claims.
- Young workers accounted for 8.9 per cent of all registered time loss claims in 2017, down from 9.6 per cent in 2016
- Being struck by an object and overexertion are the two most common  causes of injury in young workers
- In 2017, 65 young workers in the health and social services sector were injured seriously enough to lose time from work. This sector continues to have the highest rate of injury in the province overall.
- Back injuries are the most common time-loss injury, fingers are hurt more often in general.


2017 Young Worker Injury Event Descriptions

  • Workplace physical assault
  • Bag of frozen chili fell and hit worker on the head
  • Taking down Christmas decorations and hit head on ceiling
  • Working in a confined space in the aircraft,crawled out and twisted back
  • Reached into pizza oven to grab pan while wearing plastic gloves, burnt hands
  • Lifted a go kart
  • Moving carts in parking lot, customer drove over foot
  • Rolling a 300lb tire, fell on leg from knee down
  • While dusting bottom of a rack, a mannequin fell off the rack and hit worker’s head