Ask the Safety Expert: How can our committee support new and young workers?

Ask the Safety Expert: How can our committee support new and young workers?

​​Ask the Safety Expert: Shawn Trudell​​

Q: How can our comm​ittee support new and young workers?

Answered by Shawn Trudell, Prevention Consultant, SAFE Work Manitoba

First, it’s important to understand the duties involved in your role as a ​committee member. These include the following:
  • acting as a go-between for workers and management on safety and health concerns

  • making recommendations to management on how to improve workplace safety and health

  • developing and promoting measures to protect worker safety and health

  • helping to prevent injuries and illnesses in the workplace.

​New workers include those who are new to the workplace, have transferred to another location or department or have been away from the workplace for a prolonged period of time. Young workers are employees between the ages of 15 and 24. (There are limits regarding where people can work under the age of 15.)

New and young workers bring a fresh set of eyes and new ideas to a workplace. However, they tend not to ask questions because they are eager to do a good job, want to make a good impression and sometimes fear losing their job. Young workers are especially vulnerable to workplace injury and illness due to their lack of experience and inability to recognize hazards.

Your workplace safety and health committee can provide su​​​pport in the following ways:

  • Take part in the initial orientation – A safety and health committee member may choose to meet with new/young workers to review the purpose of the committee, available resources, and its role as an advocate for the worker regarding their rights and safety concerns. This involvement can help ensure the new/young worker understands the benefits of the committee, and knows they can report safety concerns not only to their employer but also directly to the committee. ​​

  • Ensure that committee members are available and that workers know how to contact them.

Additionally, committee members may consider learning about a new/young worker’s experience − whether this is their first job, for example. These types of questions can help determine what additional resources may be beneficial to the worker. It’s also important to gauge their knowledge of personal protective equipment, safe work procedures and rights. This information should all be reinforced at the committee level.

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