Following a successful pilot project, Nova Scotia’s Department of Education says it’s ready to introduce new curriculum that will teach all high school students in the province about safety hazards and preventing injuries in the workplace.
Three hundred thirty Grade 9 students from across Nova Scotia participated in the pilot program, which focused on the importance of workplace health and safety. Their teachers, from the Tri County, Cape Breton-Victoria, Halifax, South Shore and Annapolis Valley Regional school boards, met with Department of Education staff on May 13 to discuss the benefits and identify any necessary revisions to the program, the Nova Scotia Department of Education said in a press statement.
The program will be introduced in all schools in the province in the next academic year, the department said.
"We are committed to creating good jobs in this province, and good jobs exist in safe workplaces," said Marilyn More, minister of education and minister of labour and workforce development. "By teaching young people their rights as workers, we are encouraging the open dialogue and discussions needed to create safer work environments."
The departments of Education and Labour and Workforce Development and the Workers' Compensation Board developed the program, which consists of eight hours of in-class instruction. The program will be part of the compulsory Healthy Living 9 course.
"My students now recognize a safety hazard when they see it, and they understand the consequences of saying nothing," said John Helle, who teaches at Malcolm Munroe Junior High School.
"My students have told me that they are bringing more concerns forward in their part-time jobs, and it is my hope that they will carry these important skills throughout their careers."
Like many other provinces, the number of youth joining the workforce in Nova Scotia is increasing. According to Statistics Canada, 62,700 Nova Scotians aged 15 to 24 are now part of the workforce. In 2009, almost 1,000 workers younger than 24 lost time from work because of an injury.
"Nothing is more important to parents than the safety of their son or daughter," said More. "The number of workplace injuries among youth is unacceptable, and I am glad to know that all Grade 9 students in the province will have this awareness and these important skills as they enter the workforce."