The Ministry of Labour has announced that the safety of young and new workers will be the focus of a four-month enforcement health and safety blitz across Ontario beginning in May 2010. According to the government, young and new workers in Ontario are four times more likely to be injured during the first month of employment than at any other time.
This initiative coincides with students starting summer jobs around the month of May. Particular attention will be focused on workplaces where many young and new workers are employed, including stores, wholesalers, restaurants, construction sites and vehicle sales. Inspectors will also check workplaces such as golf courses, camps, temporary amusement parks and locations where workers are engaged in activities such as landscaping.
Health and safety inspectors will check to ensure young and new workers:
- Are properly oriented, trained and supervised on jobs.
- Meet minimum age requirements.
- Are protected by safety measures to prevent injuries.
Young and new workers are defined as:
Young and new workers aged 14 to 24 years.
New workers 25 and older who have been on the job less than six months or who have been reassigned to a new job.
The blitz is part of the province’s Safe At Work Ontario strategy, launched in June 2008.
What should targeted employers do to prepare?
- Employers should ensure that young and new workers are being given the proper orientation and training when starting a job and are receiving appropriate supervision.
- Ensure workers meet minimum age requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Workers must be at least: 14 to work in industrial establishments such as offices, stores, arenas and restaurant serving areas; 15 to work in most factories, including restaurant kitchens, automotive service garages, produce and meat preparation, and shipping and receiving areas in grocery stores, laundries and warehouses; and 16 to work in logging operations.
- Ensure safety measures are in place to prevent injuries. This may include safe practices for materials handling and mechanical device usage to prevent ergonomics and musculoskeletal injuries, procedures for specific equipment such as using guarding devices on machinery and the safe use of lifting devices, ladders and personal protective equipment to prevent falls. It will also include violence and harassment prevention measures coming into force on June 15, 2010.
Human Resources and Compliance Managing Editor