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School’s out, summer is in, and the warm weather is slowly coaxing cold students out from libraries and classrooms and into the workplace.
Those first jobs provide a lot that lasts: coworkers who turn into lifelong friendships, experiences that can inspire careers, and entertaining anecdotes to supply many after-work patios and weekend beach trips to come.
Whether you’re coaching soccer on the field, just landed your first office gig, or anywhere in between, a first job also sets a standard for the rest of your working life.
Here’s an example.
In 2010, we supported WorkSafeBC’s research investigating the link between young worker apprenticeships and lung health later in life.
The study found that the first two years of an apprenticeship are the most critical in terms of long-term lung health. That means that the split second decision to follow – or not follow – safety procedures will have an impact later in life.
• Participants who had symptoms such as cough or wheeze at the beginning of their working lives were more likely to be diagnosed with asthma or other respiratory diseases.
• Participants who experienced a rapid decline in their lung function, or who developed very sensitive airways early in working life, were at increased risk of developing asthma.
- From the Executive Summary: The UBC Lung Health Study
The trades are just one example of how working practices can impact you long after you’ve left the workplace.
Across industries, we know that about 3,000 workers under age 25 are injured every year. In 2018 alone, 595 workers under the age of 25 were injured seriously enough to lose time from work. That’s too many preventable injuries changing the careers – and lives -- of young Nova Scotians.
In retail, that could look like a back injury that flares up on after-work jogs, or, in food service, an oil burn that prevents you from enjoying time outside during those warm summer months.
These injuries happen at work, but they hurt most at home.
In all cases, it’s your supervisor’s job first to remind you to work safely, so that you build habits that stick.
If you are a supervisor who will be hiring young workers this summer, we can help.
• Our Young Worker Kit contains stickers, pledge forms, posters, and a free gift for your young workers. It also contains a pamphlet to help get conversations started.
• We have a section of our website dedicated to young tools for workers, including informational videos, Q&As and discussion guides.
• You can request our Young Worker Kit, as well as other safety supplies, through our website order form.
If you are a young worker in Nova Scotia, no matter where you work, you have rights when it comes to your health and safety. You have the right:
• To refuse unsafe work
• To know about hazards in your workplace
• To participate in your own safety
Here’s a Q&A covering frequently asked questions, including:
• “If I’m hurt at work, what do I do?”
• “What if my employer insists I work when I am ill and I get injured or the illness gets worse?”
Summer jobs are fun, exciting, and they’re a valuable learning opportunity for workers and employers alike. But we know the best parts of summer don’t all happen at work – they’re in the pool, on the deck, or at the barbeque, and they happen with the people who matter most.
Working safely means that when you clock out, you should only be taking those positives with you: who you’ve helped, what you’ve learned, and what you’ve earned.
Don’t let a seasonal gig do permanent damage. Work right at the start of your working life, so that you can work safe, for life.
For more information about keeping young workers safe on the job, visit our website.