Are you doing enough to protect the most vulnerable workers in your workplace from injury? The Ministry of Labour’s (MOL) new and young worker inspection blitz, May 1 to August 31, is a signal to Ontario’s workplaces to review and strengthen workplace procedures related to this group. Doing so could help you prevent injuries and avoid penalties from the MOL.
What inspectors will be looking for
Inspectors will target workplaces that employ workers aged 14-24, have workers who have been on the job for less than six months, or been assigned to a new job within the same period. These workers are three times more likely to be injured during their first month than more experienced workers. A company’s specific practices related to these new and young workers will be under the microscope, as well as their overall health and safety program. This includes:
- Information, instruction and supervision. Are new and young workers getting the required information and supervision to protect their health and safety?
- Safety measures. Do you have measures and procedures in place to prevent injuries and occupational illness? Violence and harassment?
- Internal responsibility system. Do you have a functioning joint health and safety committee or a health and safety representative?
What inspectors found last year
Between May 1 to August 31, 2017, ministry inspectors made 2,261 field visits to 1,779 workplaces and issued 6,828 orders, including 88 stop work orders. Among these orders:
- 1,182 involved violence and harassment provisions
- 762 involved basic training, including mandatory awareness training for workers and supervisors.
Get a closer look at orders: Inspection blitz results: New and young workers 2017.
3 ways to protect vulnerable workers
Employers can do 3 things to help send new and young workers home from work as healthy as when they started.
- Before hiring, assess the job and its hazards. Which scenarios will present risks? Which tasks should be assigned to experienced workers? Are there language barriers you need to address?
- Put the emphasis on orientation. In your training, address workers’ three basic rights: to know about hazards, to participate in your organization’s health and safety efforts, and to refuse dangerous work. Accommodate different learning styles for example, in the classroom, in a simulated environment, and on the job. Hand out checklists. Set up a buddy system between experienced and new workers.
- Invest in your supervisors. Make sure they know the laws, regulations and hazards, and have the training and experience to help workers adhere to safe work procedures. Supervisors must be patient, repeat instructions, coach, retrain, and offer praise – especially to overcome workers reluctance to ask safety questions.