WorkSafeBC is reaching out to both employers of young workers and young workers themselves to be vigilant about workplace safety. Between 2012 and 2016, more than 32,000 young workers aged 15 to 24 were injured on the job; of those more than 3,600 were seriously injured — an average of 14 per week.
Jack Thomas is a young worker who lives with this reality every day. In 2015, as Thomas was working near a conveyer belt that had been turned off, the belt suddenly started up and his sleeve was caught in the machinery.
He had only been on the job for two months when, at 17, he lost half of his right arm.
“It was a summer job,” he said. “I didn’t think at all about making my own safety a priority. It just wasn’t on my mind.”
Thomas reflects often on how different his life might have been. He hopes telling his story will help other young workers think about possible hazards in their workplaces and speak up.
From 2012 to 2015 the overall injury rate for young workers remained at 2.2, decreasing to 2.1 in 2016. That said, 18 young workers in British Columbia died due to a workplace injury between 2012 and 2016.
“All young-worker injuries and deaths are unacceptable,” said Trudi Rondou, WorkSafeBC senior manager, industry and labour services. “We want to address reservations young workers may have about raising safety concerns with their bosses, encourage them to trust their instincts and help them understand their rights and responsibilities on the job.”
WorkSafeBC launched the Listen to Your Gut awareness campaign to encourage young workers to speak up when faced with a potentially unsafe situation. Young workers can visit worksafebc.com/ListenToYourGut for tips on bringing safety concerns to their boss and watch videos showing various workplace scenarios.
In addition, WorkSafeBC is reaching out to employers of young workers with short videos titled What I Know Now, based on employers reflecting on their first jobs and lessons learned. Employers in B.C. are required by law to train and supervise all their workers and ensure their health and safety.
The employers featured in the videos are: Beedie Construction, Central Kitchen + Bar, London Drugs and Jacob Bros. Construction. These employers represent three industry sectors with high numbers of young-worker serious-injury claims: the service sector (restaurants), the construction sector and the trade sector (retail). The videos and other resources can be found at worksafebc.com/WhatIKnowNow.
WorkSafeBC works with a broad range of organizations such as employer associations, labour, government and parent and community groups to increase awareness of young-worker safety training, orientation and health and safety issues.