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Safety Matters


Our blog discussing workplace safety opportunities in Nova Scotia and around the world.

Editorial: New summer job? Talk to your kids about workplace safety

The following editorial by Stuart MacLean, CEO, Workers' Compensation Board of Nova Scotia ran in the Chronicle Herald on July 5, 2012.

Over the next few weeks, thousands of young Nova Scotians will start summer jobs. For many it will be their first introduction to the world of work. We want them all to come home safe, but sadly, for some that may not happen. Last year, about 3,500 Nova Scotians under age 25 were hurt on the job. Of those, about 650 young workers suffered injuries that were serious enough to result in time lost from work.

So if your child is starting a summer job, talk to them about workplace safety. Don’t assume they have all the information they need to stay safe.

Young people can make great employees. They want to work hard, gain experience, impress their boss and make a few dollars. Yet young workers face unique risks for workplace injury, including finding themselves in new environments and often lacking the experience or confidence to speak up if they encounter a dangerous situation. What’s more, young Nova Scotians often work seasonally and temporarily in high-risk industries, and may not receive the same level of safety training as their permanent, full-time co-workers.

That means your kids could face increased risks of injury. No parent wants the heartbreak of seeing their child hurt at work.

Talking about safety is absolutely vital, and most employers take their safety responsibilities — including telling workers about hazards and protective measures — very seriously. It’s important to understand that every job has risks and that young workers have both a right and responsibility to be actively engaged in their own safety. That can be tough to do in a new job, but a conversation with Mom or Dad can give a young person the confidence to talk about safety at their summer job.

Your kids need to understand that safety applies in all workplaces, and that young workers have the same protected safety rights as all Nova Scotia workers:

  • All workers have the right to know about the hazards in their workplace. A good orientation should always encourage questions and provide safety training.
  • All workers have the right to take part in their own safety. Speaking up about hazards can be tough, but most employers and supervisors welcome engaged employees who are focused on safety.
  • All workers have the right to refuse work that they feel may hurt them.
Overall, Nova Scotia is becoming a safer place to work. The number of serious injuries has dropped by 27 per cent since 2005, but there is no “acceptable” number of workplace injuries or deaths in Nova Scotia. One is too many.

The Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia is working with employers and labour groups, industry organizations and safety associations, and the provincial department of Labour and Advanced Education, to create a culture of workplace safety in Nova Scotia. Supporting the families of young Nova Scotians when they enter the workforce is one key to creating a long-term, sustainable safety culture.

That is where Nova Scotia’s parents come in. We need your support. By helping your children embrace safety as they enter the workforce, you can help them stay safe for their entire working lives.

There are so many ways to get the conversation about workplace safety started. Check out these resources for young workers, parents and employers. You can also find out more at or on Twitter at @NSYoungWorkers

So at the dinner table tonight, talk to your daughter or son about safety on their summer job. Ask them questions and get them thinking about safety.

The conversation may change your lives.

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