Six Ontario students have been recognized with 2014 Workers Health & Safety Centre (WHSC) post-secondary student scholarships.
This annual scholarship competition intends to shed light on the excess risk students and others face when they first enter a workplace or are asked to perform new work at an existing job. This excess is significant. They are four to six times more likely to be injured during the first month on a job compared to those with more than one year experience.
Researchers from Ontario’s Institute of Work and Health (IWH) have found that age has little if anything to do with this excess risk. The IWH and others explain the excess risk for young and new workers often stems from a lack of workplace and job experience, little if any health and safety training, as well as exposure to unsafe and unhealthy working conditions.
So rather than focusing on the misguided notion of young worker carelessness, the WHSC and many others subscribe to a hazard-based approach to training ensuring participants learn about the many ways to identify, assess and eliminate hazardous working conditions.
Many scholarship applicants conveyed a similar hazard-based approach to safer and healthier workplaces as part of their submission. They were asked to write an essay, design a poster or produce a video aimed at raising the profile of workplace health and safety among young and other new workers in their community.
Some shared specific examples where unsafe work led to serious injuries.
Many focused on the need for effective health and safety training and awareness campaigns in the school system, workplace and community. One unique idea was to train youth health and safety ambassadors in schools who would function as important resources for all students throughout the year.
They offered how technology and social media embraced by youth can serve to raise awareness. They also spoke about the shortcomings of traditional marketing (radio and print media) as a means of engaging youth, new immigrants and other new workers.
All applicants are to be applauded for their efforts. Successful candidates received a $1,200 bursary to help offset the significant cost of post-secondary education here in Ontario. This initiative is funded with proceeds from the Cliff Pilkey/WHSC Invitational Golf Tournament. This event is generously supported by our many labour and community partners.
Specific details about the WHSC 2015 post-secondary student scholarship competition will be posted online and promoted through various WHSC social media outlets in early 2015.
The WHSC was one of the first organizations in Ontario to offer specific awareness programs for new and young workers. In fact, the WHSC continues to partner with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation and others in our constituency to deliver a range of health and safety awareness programs in schools across Ontario.
These important awareness programs, however, are not intended as a substitute for legally-mandated and employer-provided worker training. The WHSC offers a host of training programs to assist workplaces in meeting these extensive worker training obligations, including those for new workers. A good place to start is the WHSC’s Awareness Training for Workers
Want to meet the 2014 WHSC Student Scholarship winners?
Want to access the many WHSC Young Worker resources?
Want more information from the IWH on newness and the risk of injury?
Want to know how the WHSC can help workplaces better understand and meet the extensive training obligations for all workplace parties including new and young workers and supervisors?
For additional information about WHSC training or information resources: