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NAOSH Week is an important reminder about the importance of creating a safety culture in Nova Scotia’s workplaces. Each of us has a role to play in creating a safe working environment. We also have a responsibility to help keep our co-workers safe.
This is particularly true when it comes to young workers. Young people starting a first or new job are vulnerable. Research shows that workers under the age of 25 are more likely to be injured on the job. In fact, in their first month on the job, young workers and new workers are five times more likely to be hurt than workers who have been in their current job more than one year.
We know that these young people are good employees, eager to learn and work. But they also find themselves in a very unfamiliar environment. They may not understand safety policies and procedures. They often lack the confidence of more experienced workers. They want to impress so they may not speak up if they have a question about how to do something, or how to do it safely.
As a manager or co-worker, you can recognize this fact and help guide these young workers. Don’t take their safety for granted. If you are their supervisor, or working alongside them, you can:
1. Make safety an important part of their orientation
2. Talk about safety, and make it a regular part of the workplace conversation
3. Point out potential dangers on the job site
4. Make sure they are aware of safety procedures, and follow them
5. Encourage them to speak up if they have a question or concern
6. Make sure they wear appropriate safety gear, and wear it properly
7. Make sure they understand that their rights as a new worker are the same as every other worker
You've learned the ropes. You’ve seen what happens when safety isn’t a priority. Maybe, like all too many Nova Scotians, you’ve seen a colleague hurt or even killed on the job. Or maybe you’ve been hurt yourself.
Use that knowledge. If you help create a young worker who understands how to work safely, you make an important contribution to the evolution of a safety culture in Nova Scotia. That young worker will take the lessons you share to heart, and bring them with him or her throughout the rest of their lives.
Your personal leadership and education will make a real difference in the life of that young worker, and in helping reduce the number of people hurt on the job in Nova Scotia.