The Workers Health and Safety Centre is proud to announce the six successful candidates for the 2015 WHSC post-secondary student scholarships.
This annual scholarship initiative aims to raise occupational health and safety awareness among students
—a segment of the workforce who face excessive and significant risks in terms of work-related injuries and deaths. Just as important this initiative aims to dispel the myth of the careless young worker.
According to research, age has little to do with the excess risk
faced by this group of workers. Rather their vulnerability relates to issues ranging from their newness to work and lack of experience, to lack of training and unsafe and unhealthy working conditions.
“The notion young workers are careless has for too long been the singular focus for many who don’t want to consider real prevention solutions,” says Dave Killham, executive director, Workers Health and Safety Centre (WHSC). “A key aspect of our annual scholarship initiative is to shed light on this misguided notion and help shift the discussion from blame to prevention
Scholarship candidates were asked to write an essay, develop a poster or produce a video explaining why employers have the greatest responsibility for ensuring work is safe and healthy.
Many candidates answered this question in simple terms—namely, it is an employer’s legal obligation to protect the health or safety of a worker.
They also focused on the extensive employer training obligations ranging from worker and supervisor health and safety awareness, to WHMIS and violence training. Some candidates even touched on the need for employers to go beyond just minimum training obligations
. As one student observed, “Too often training is solely in the form of a video. This is the least effective approach.”
Most cited the ultimate authority of employers to direct all aspects of work
. Though workers have a right to participate in workplace health and safety, employers have the final say in terms of work procedures and the implementation of preventive actions needed to eliminate or control unsafe and unhealthy working conditions.
Some scholarship candidates offered their concerns and experiences with employer efforts to shift the responsibility for safety onto the worker themselves
. “Employers often offer their workers something called a ‘safety incentive,’” wrote one student. “Basically they encourage workers to work safely on the job and keep away from hazards…Rather than having workers dodge every hazard in the workplace, they should be making sure there are no hazards and making sure that all machinery is used in the safest ways possible and they should also be constantly checking that company procedures are not risking the lives of their employees.”
“This is precisely the kind of message we want students to take away,” says Killham. “It is gratifying to know we are striking a chord with some young workers knowing this makes our scholarship initiative so worthwhile.”
Successful candidates for the WHSC 2015 scholarship contest 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 annual Cliff Pilkey/WHSC Invitational Golf Tournament. This event is generously supported by many labour and community partners.
Specific details about the WHSC 2016 post-secondary student scholarship competition will be posted online and promoted through various WHSC social media outlets in early 2016.
Want to meet the 2015 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. To learn more, contact WHSC and ask to speak with a training services representative.