WorkSafe Saskatchewan is reminding young and first-time workers that learning to work safely is an important part of summer jobs.
Most workplace injuries occur in July and August, and more than half occur in service, department stores, construction and manufacturing industries, according to a statement from WorkSafe Saskatchewan. The most common injuries are to hands, backs, legs and eyes.
Young workers have many of the same on-the-job risks as adults, but they are more vulnerable to workplace injuries than adult workers are. On average, three young people in Saskatchewan die on the job each year, with three main causes:
• lack of supervision and/or training;
• minimal knowledge of rights and responsibilities; and,
• lack of experience in recognizing hazardous situations.
WorkSafe Saskatchewan are advising young workers to:
1. Ask questions. There is no such thing as a stupid question. Asking questions can save lives. As a new employee, young workers may even notice hazards that others have missed.
2. Go with your gut. If it feels wrong, then it probably is wrong. Always ask the supervisor or an experienced worker if unsure of the safest way to do something, or if a situation looks unsafe. Workers have the right to refuse dangerous work.
Summer jobs also mean there’s a chance of working outdoors. Working outdoors brings with it dangers from heat and sun exposure, humidity, physical exertion and dehydration. The power of the sun can feel good after a long winter, but young people should be aware of the risks that come with working outdoors:
• Heat exposure. Heat can cause cramps and rashes, serious illness and death. The most serious heat-related disorders are heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water or drinks with electrolytes (not pop, sparkling water or alcohol).
• Skin cancer. Receiving one or two blistering sunburns before the age of 18 at least doubles an individual’s risk for developing melanoma. Wear sunscreen and re-apply generously, as needed.
• Eye damage from UV radiation. Extended exposure can lead to cataracts. Wear sunglasses that protect from UVA and UVB radiation.
• Allergic reactions. Allergies to stinging insects are quite common and most people don’t know they have an allergy until it happens. If allergic to insect stings, carry an epi-pen and let co-workers and supervisor know of any allergy.
If hurt, report the injury to a supervisor, doctor and the Workers’ Compensation Board. Injured workers can report online at wcbsask.com.