Workers Health & Safety Centre

WHSC 2016 student scholarship contest targets prevention, avoids blame game

WHSC 2016 student scholarship contest targets prevention, avoids blame game
The Workers Health and Safety Centre (WHSC) is calling on Ontario high school seniors to expand their health and safety awareness by applying for a post-secondary scholarship.
What: 16th Annual WHSC Student Scholarship Contest
Who: Students residing in Ontario and beginning their first year of full or part-time studies leading to a degree, diploma or certificate from a publicly-funded Ontario College or University. Entrants must not have graduated high school prior to summer of 2015.
Deadline: Friday, June 10, 2016
The aim of this scholarship initiative is to shed light on the fact new workers, many of whom are students, face excess risk to their health and safety at work. Research suggests they are four times more likely to be injured during the first month on a job than workers with more than one year experience.
Equally important, this initiative will emphasize workplace solutions designed to reduce this risk and to further expose the misguided notion of young worker carelessness.
“Workers do not get injured because they are 18 years old or they all behave a certain way,” says Dave Killham, executive director, WHSC. “They are injured because precautions have not been taken. The belief that young workers are careless is a myth that serves only to impede precautionary efforts to make workplaces safer and healthier.”
Precaution is not an unfamiliar concept. The general duty clause in Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act obliges employers to "take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker" [s. 25(2)(h)].
Many, including the WHSC, subscribe to the precautionary principle which builds on this legal notion of reasonableness. Specifically, this principle states if an action or policy raises the threat of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures must be taken even if a cause and effect relationship is not fully established. Workplace hazards do raise the threat of harm to human health. The precautionary principle, in addition to the Act, then places a significant duty on employers to implement action(s) to eliminate or control worker exposure to hazards.
“Judging by the experiences of new workers in terms of suffering and the enforcement statistics recently released by the Ministry of Labour, many employers either don’t fully understand these obligations or are failing to act on them, ” says Killham.
Ministry of Labour (MOL) inspectors conducted an enforcement blitz from May 1 to August 1, 2015 focusing on workplaces employing new and young workers. Compared to a similar blitz in 2014, the MOL issued 43 per cent more compliance orders under the Act and regulations. They also reported a 33 per cent increase in stop work orders to employers—situations an inspector deemed so dangerous they demanded work be stopped until the risk was addressed.
For more than 30 years, WHSC training programs have advocated 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 commitment to quality. All our programs are also 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.
Applicants for the 2016 WHSC Student Scholarship contest must write an essay or create a poster exploring an existing or emerging occupational health or safety hazard. Submissions must also explain why and how employers should prevent or control exposures based on the hierarchy of control.
Up to six candidates will be selected and will be eligible to receive a $1,200 scholarship.
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 Invitational Golf Tournament.
Want to know more about the 2016 WHSC Student Scholarship contest?
2016 WHSC Student Scholarship Rules
2016 WHSC Student Scholarship Application
Want to access WHSC Young Worker resources?
Want to read more about the MOL new worker enforcement blitz?

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. To learn more, contact WHSC and ask to speak with a training services representative.
Call:   1-888-869-7950