Workers Health & Safety Centre

WHSC awards annual post-secondary student scholarships

WHSC awards annual post-secondary student scholarships
The Workers Health and Safety Centre (WHSC) is pleased to announce the six students selected as the 2017 WHSC post-secondary scholarship recipients.  
As a theme for this year’s contest, students were asked to consider the legal duties placed upon workplace parties in terms of ensuring work is safe and healthy.
“We are very pleased with the level of awareness shown by many of the scholarship candidates in terms of the significant legal obligations placed upon employers and supervisors to protect workers from hazards,” says Dave Killham, executive director, WHSC. “Equally important, many also recognized their own role, both in terms of reporting potential hazards, as well as the need to act on their right to know, right to participate and right to refuse unsafe work.” 

Safe work versus working safer

“Every worker does have a certain responsibility for safety as directed by their employer,” wrote Jane MacMillan, one of the successful scholarship candidates and graduate of Mississauga’s St. Aloysius Gonzaga Catholic Secondary School. “However, it is really the supervisors and employers that have true control, and therefore the majority of responsibility with implementing safe working conditions for workers.”
The experiences of those who suffer and a growing body of research tells us work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths occur because work is unhealthy or unsafe and/or precautions have not been taken, including the provision of adequate training.
Of concern to the WHSC and many others is the fact some employers continue to disregard their legal obligations as they relate to ensuring work is safe. Their efforts, instead, shift responsibilities to workers through behaviour-based safety systems (BBS).
This annual student scholarship competition is one of many WHSC initiatives aimed at dispelling the myth that worker behaviour causes injuries, adds to the significant burden of occupational disease or leads to fatal incidents at work.
Ontario’s globally recognized Institute for Work and Health weighed in on the BBS debate at the request of the Expert Panel led by Tony Dean some seven years ago. While they acknowledge BBS has a long tradition, they advised occupational health and safety management systems should have “a dominant commitment to control and eliminate workplace hazards under the hierarchy of control principle.”
Brooke Driscoll, a graduate of Peterborough’s St. Peter Catholic Secondary School and scholarship winner, shed light on important aspects of this hierarchy, including the need to engage workers in the pursuit of prevention. “By identifying and eliminating workplace hazards, heeding employee concerns, and ensuring that all members of their workplace have received proper training, employers can help to achieve a safe and healthy workplace.”  

Encouraging activism

An important aim of this annual WHSC initiative, says Killham, is to encourage young people, regardless of where their career path takes them, to consider their role in the pursuit of healthier and safer workplaces. “As workers, we hope they will insist and act upon their hard-earned health and safety rights. And, should they one day find themselves in a management role, we hope they fully execute their responsibilities to protect worker safety and health.”
Each successful scholarship candidates received $1,200 to help offset the significant cost of post-secondary education here in Ontario.
No portion of WHSC revenues or operational grants support this important awareness initiative. WHSC grants originate from a portion of employer assessments paid to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and transferred to Ministry of Labour for awarding to the system’s health and safety associations, WHSC included.  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. 
Note: The WHSC is revamping the annual WHSC post-secondary student scholarship competition for 2018. An important part of this change will be the awarding of scholarships in memory and recognition of Clifford Pilkey and Fred Upshaw. Clifford Pilkey, Ontario Federation of Labour president from 1976 through 1986, provided the vision and stewardship that led to the creation of the WHSC. He subsequently served as president of the WHSC Board of Directors from 1985 till 2000 and president emeritus until 2009. Fred Upshaw was the first African-Canadian to lead a major labour union in Canada serving as president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union from 1990 to 1995. Fred served on the WHSC Board of Directors for 25 years right up until his passing in 2017.
Please keep an eye out for details to be posted online and promoted through various WHSC media channels in early 2018.
Want to meet the 2017 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?

As Ontario’s legally designated training centre specializing in occupational health and safety, the WHSC offers programs to help workplaces comply with a host of obligations required by law. Our programs, however, have always been designed to go beyond just legal minimums and ensure real learning is achieved. With this, training participants will be better prepared to play a role in the pursuit of safe work.
To learn more  
Call:   1-888-869-7950 and ask to speak to a training service representative