The Workers Health & Safety Centre (WHSC) has recognized four deserving candidates with post-secondary student scholarships.
An important goal of this annual scholarship initiative is to dispel the myth of young worker carelessness
and to move the discussion and actions towards proper preparation and prevention.
“Age has nothing to do with whether or not young workers are hurt or killed on the job,” says Dave Killham, executive director, WHSC. “These incidents happen because young workers are exposed to unsafe and unhealthy work environments, they are new to a job and often don’t receive even the basic training required by law.
This belief is supported by research published by the Toronto-based Institute for Work and Health (IWH). Researchers found new workers, many of whom are students, are four times more likely to be injured during the first month on a job
than workers with more than one year experience. IWH findings confirm the excess risk was mainly the result of inexperience and newness to a job. This held true for older workers who were new to the job as well.
Scholarship candidates were asked to write an essay or develop a poster explaining why and how employers should prevent or control exposure to occupational hazards
based on the hierarchy of controls.
Tiana Hann, one of the 2016 scholarship recipients from Minesing, Ontario, recognized the significant legal obligations placed on employers to ensure worker safety
and discussed these through the lens of preventing work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). “The best way to control any hazard is to eliminate it…relating this concept to MSDs, the employer must eliminate the repetitive motions carried out by the employee.” She further observed,“Engineering controls could be manipulated for the best interest of employees including the use of mechanical devices to assist employees to carry and lift heavy loads.”
Summer Marcella, a scholarship recipient from Stokes Bay, Ontario, also emphasized the duties of employers to protect workers. Though she also recognized that workers have a role to play including specific obligations such as reporting unsafe working conditions and injuries. She asked an important question, however. “Where do we get the education
and help to make this happen?” She posed her question with future students in mind.
Marcella was a participant in the WHSC’s former Young Worker Awareness Program
(YWAP) at her high school. “The best part (of the program) is their unique perspective on avoiding band-aid solutions and victim-blaming. Instead the focus is on getting to the root of the problem to control hazardous work conditions or to eliminate them altogether…Unfortunately, this valuable service was not renewed by the Ministry of Labour
. What a shame.”
Despite this cut in funding, the WHSC remains committed to empowering students, where possible, with the knowledge and confidence they need to exercise their rights. This scholarship contest and the question posed to candidates is an important part of this commitment.
This same commitment to all workplace parties remains at the heart of what we’ve done for more than 30 years. Specifically, we continue to offer training programs and resources advocating a hazard-based approach aimed at creating safer, healthier workplaces.
Our focus has helped us become Ontario’s premier provider of occupational health and safety training and Ontario’s only government-designated training centre.
Equally significant has been our unwavering commitment to quality.
Our programs are based on demonstrated techniques and principles, each designed to ensure learning.
When it comes to health and safety training, we believe the assumption “something is better than nothing” to be a very dangerous idea. Deliver the wrong information, or in the wrong way, and the harm many workers face may actually be heightened.
This is especially true for vulnerable workers such as new workers, who often happen to be young.
Successful candidates for the WHSC 2016 scholarship contest received $1,200
to help offset the significant cost of post-secondary education here in Ontario.
No portion of WHSC revenues or grants from the Ministry of Labour support this important awareness initiative. All student scholarships are financed solely through funds raised at the annual Cliff Pilkey Memorial Golf Fundraiser.
This event is generously supported by our many labour and community partners.
Specific details about the WHSC 2017 post-secondary student scholarship competition will be posted online and promoted through various WHSC social media in early 2017.
Want to meet the 2016 WHSC Student Scholarship winners?
Want to access the many WHSC Young Worker resources?
Want more information from the Institute for Work and Health on newness and the risk of injury?
For our part, the Workers Health & Safety Centre assists workplace parties through training programs
and information services
to identify and assess work hazards and target prevention at the workplace level. Many of our programs will help employers to meet their training obligations, including those for new workers. To learn more, contact WHSC and ask to speak with a training services representative.