Youth learn about workplace safety, up close and personal

Landing a job can be exciting — especially for a young person who may be new to the work world. New workers are excited to earn a paycheque and please their boss.

The possibility of getting hurt on the job isn’t necessarily on their radar.

But the reality is that young people do get injured at work — their risk of injury is greater than someone who is older and more experienced in the same position. About 3,500 people under the age of 25 are injured on the job in Saskatchewan each year and three will die from a work-related incident.

To educate and inform young people about safe work practices, WorkSafe Saskatchewan recently met with 4,600 students at 16 schools in Regina and Saskatoon. Called the Work2Live Tour, the event featured motivational speaker and injured worker, Spencer Beach. Spencer shared his story with students about how he was caught in a flash fire when he was stripping linoleum in his 20s. The fire burned 90 per cent of his body.

Rights and responsibilities

The tour informed students of their basic rights as workers, including:

  • the right to know the hazards at work and how to protect themselves
  • the right to participate in health and safety activities at work
  • the right to refuse work they believe to be unusually dangerous

They also learned about their responsibilities as workers, including:

  • using or wearing the proper protective safety equipment
  • asking questions if they are unsure how to do the job safely

Youth injuries by the numbers

At the start of each Work2Live presentation, students were given a WorkSafe t-shirt. At the end of each presentation, they were asked to stand up according to the colour of shirt they had received.

Each shirt colour represented the percentage of youth workplace injuries and fatalities in the province of Saskatchewan:

  • hands that are cut, struck or burned: 42 per cent
  • back injuries from lifting, climbing, reaching and/or twisting: 17 per cent
  • legs that are sprained, strained and/or broken: 17 per cent
  • arms that are cut, sprained or strained: 13 per cent
  • eye injuries due to flying debris, such as chips and splinters: 11 per cent

The students that were given black shirts represent the three youth who die every year in work-related incidents in Saskatchewan. This resulted in a significant effect on the students, who realized they represented three youth killed on the job every year.

Video contest continues the safety conversation

To reinforce the tour’s messages, WorkSafe Saskatchewan launched the 2020 Youth Video Contest. Open to Saskatchewan students in Grades 9 to 12, the contest challenges youth to create an engaging two-minute video on workplace safety, health and injury prevention.

Students who create the top three videos will win cash prizes for their teams and schools:

Team/School First Second Third
$1,000/$1,500 $750/$1,000 $500/$750

Deadline for submissions is March 26, 2020 at 4 p.m. For contest rules and to view winning videos from previous years, see 2020 Youth Video Contest.