In anticipation of young people entering the workforce this summer, WorkSafe is reminding young people, and their parents, the importance of safe working conditions and worker’s rights.
In 2021, WorkSafeBC accepted 7,125 claims related to injuries from young workers.
According to WorkSafeBC’s 2021 data, injuries were most likely to occur in service-sector jobs (2,801 claims), followed by retail and wholesale (1,335 claims), and construction (1,258 claims).
In the last five years, 16 young workers have died in workplace incidents.
“More than half of all serious injuries occur during the first six months of employment,” said Jacqueline Holmes, Manager of Prevention Field Services at WorkSafeBC.
”Injuries can result from inadequate training, orientation, and supervision, inexperience, or a reluctance to speak up, ask questions, and raise health and safety concerns.”
Now, WorkSafe is reminding young people of their rights to safe working conditions and how to report hazards if they come across them.
All workers in B.C. have the legal right to refuse unsafe work if there is reasonable cause to believe it would create an undue hazard to their health and safety.
“It is every worker’s right to refuse unsafe work. Young workers should speak to their supervisors if they feel a task might be hazardous,” said Holmes.
“Trust your gut— it’s okay to say, ‘I need more training before I am comfortable’ or ‘This doesn’t feel safe.’”
It is also illegal for employers to punish or fire anyone for refusing unsafe work or reporting hazards to a supervisor.
Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, employers have a legal responsibility to ensure young and new workers receive appropriate training and supervision.
When employers fail to adequately train or supervise young workers, WorkSafeBC may use various enforcement tools, including orders, warning letters, stop-work orders, compliance agreements, and citations and penalties, where necessary.
For more information, as well as a variety of resources on workplace safety, you can visit WorkSafeBC’s Young Workers website.
If you feel an unsafe situation has not been resolved, you can contact (anonymously, if preferred) the WorkSafeBC prevention line and speak directly with a prevention officer at: 1-888-621-7233.