Summer students and safety: what you need to know

July 20, 2018

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Do you hire summer students? Young workers are an asset to your workplace ― coming in with enthusiasm, fresh eyes, and new ideas.
However, many young workers tend not to ask questions about their safety at work because they are eager to please, want to make a good impression and are afraid of losing their job. This hesitation can have serious consequences. New workers have five to seven times the risk of injury than other workers in the first four weeks of a new job.
As an employer, you can offer your summer students a good work experience while also protecting them from injury on the job.

Here’s what to do

Employers must ensure that every new worker is provided with a safety and health orientation and is trained to protect themselves from hazards that they may encounter in the course of their duties.

  • Train managers and supervisors on how to provide a safety and health orientation for new workers at your workplace. Here’s how to do an orientation.
  • Spend more time explaining the job to new staff (e.g., task specific, process, procedures, etc.).
  • Use the “tell me, show me, practice” method of teaching – always have new workers demonstrate that they can do the work safely before leaving them to perform the work alone.
  • Keep in mind that new workers need a different kind of supervision, and that supervisors must be competent. Supervisors need to spend more time in the first few weeks making sure new employees understand why a task is performed in a certain way.
  • Be clear about the expectations – people are more likely to follow the rules if they know what they are!​
  • Check back frequently to ensure there is follow-up with new staff.
  • Supervisors need to be available and open to answering questions and providing advice. Remember, many new workers will not ask questions unless encouraged to do so.
  • Explain the importance of prompt reporting of unsafe conditions and concerns. Ensure new workers know it is a priority for you and tell them how and to whom to report a hazard or concern. It is important to act on those concerns or workers quickly learn that the company isn’t really interested in creating a safe and healthy work environment.
  • Supervisors and senior workers are role models. New workers will take note of “how things are really done around the workplace” as they are eager to fit in. They will very quickly adopt the attitudes and behaviours of co-workers and supervisors.

Visit safemanitoba.com for more information on new/young worker safety.