Tips for Young Workers

Help ensure your own safety by knowing what to look for when entering a new or different work situation, and by knowing what questions to ask your potential or present employer. Injuries and accidents can have many root causes including:

  • unsafe working conditions
  • lack of supervision
  • lack of training
  • improper equipment
  • overall disregard for health & safety

All workers (young and old) are encouraged to protect themselves by asking their employer the following questions:

  • What are the dangers of my job?
  • Are there any hazards (noise, ergonomic, chemical, radiation, etc.) that I should know about?
  • When will I receive job safety training?
  • Is there any safety gear that I'll be expected to wear? When will I receive training in how to use it?
  • When will I be trained in emergency procedures (fire, chemical spill?)
  • Where are fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and other emergency equipment located?
  • What are my health and safety responsibilities?
  • Who do I ask if I have a safety question?
  • Who is on the Health & Safety Committee and when do they meet?
  • What do I do if I get hurt? Who is the first aid person?

Source: Worksafe BC, Raise Your Hand

To achieve the highest levels of safety, you must possess KNOWLEDGE about the hazards you encounter, PRACTICAL SKILLS to avoid them and the MOTIVATION to apply your safety skills and knowledge.

A Few More Practical Tips for Young Workers

  • KEEP an eye out at your interview for signs that the employer takes safety seriously (e.g., warning signs in hazardous areas, employees wearing protective equipment, safety posters).
  • ASK for a copy of the safety rules, if you aren't given one.
  • ASK experienced employees, during training, about safety hazards.
  • WRITE down the product name from the label along with the name of the manufacturer or supplier, then look up the MSDS to find out more information about a chemical.
  • LEARN how to recognize the WHMIS hazards symbols and know what they mean.
  • KNOW how to wear your personal protective equipment properly.
  • FOLLOW all safety precautions.
  • NOTIFY your supervisor if you experience any symptoms, such as headache, dizziness, irritation in your throat or eyes, or skin rashes,that might indicate that you are being overexposed to a chemical.
  • DO NOT BE AFRAID (or too shy) to ask your employer to go over something to make sure you've got it right, or to ask them to watch you to make sure you are doing something correctly.

The ability to recognize potential hazards in the workplace requires not only common sense but also observation, learning and experience.

REMEMBER: If there is any doubt in your mind as to the safety of the materials you are handling or the duties of your employment, you have the right and the responsibility to bring your concerns to your supervisor's attention. Ultimately, all employees, including students, have the right to refuse to do work that is unsafe, and employers cannot fire anyone for exercising this right.