April 19, 2008

What you need to know about health & safety in the workplace!

One of the most difficult aspects of being a youth employment counsellor was seeing how ill-informed the majority of youth are when it comes to health and safety regulations in Ontario.

This gap in knowledge has been the subject of a number of print, radio and television commercials. Click here for a sample of some of the television ads that have been produced and aired.

Under Ontario law, both employees and employers have shared responsibilities when it comes to ensuring that workplaces are safe and productive.

As an employee, you have THREE fundamental rights in regards to health and safety on the job.


You have the right to know any hazards in your workplace. Your employer must let you know about them, and provide training so that you can work safely and effectively.


You have the right to participate in the promotion of health and safety issues as well as the prevention of hazards in your workplace.


You have the right to refuse work that you believe is dangerous to the health and safety of you, your co-workers or the general public. And your boss cannot penalize you for refusing unsafe work!

While each employee has these rights, there are also responsibilities that both the employer and employee must bear.

Employer Responsibilities

Provide a safe and healthy workplace
2. Train employees about potential hazards and ensure employees are certified when required

3. Correct unsafe acts and unsafe conditions

4. Ensure personal protective equipment is available

5. Report and investigate all accidents/incidents

Employee Responsibilities

Know and comply with all regulations
2. Protect yourself, your co-workers, and members of the public who may be affected by your actions

3. Report unsafe acts and unsafe conditions to your employer

4. Use personal protective equipment as required by the employer

5. Report any accident or illness immediately to your employer

Health and safety is consistently one of the most important issues facing youth today. On average, more than 36 students are injured (or worse) at their workplace each day. That’s almost 2 young people per hour – that’s a lot of people!

Keep in mind that an injury at work can be something like getting a small cut from a knife used to cut vegetables to breaking a limb due to a fall or losing your life! Therefore, health and safety is of utmost importance!

For more information, please visit the following links:

- Prevent It: A new WSIB initiative that provides health and safety information for young workers through an online world called Prevent-itville. Plus, there’s a yearly contest for students, who can submit a video on health and safety for young people and possibly win $1,500!

- Health and Safety 101: An online course developed by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) in Ontario to provide workers with important health and safety information.

Passport to Safety: Passport to Safety is an innovative national young worker health and safety awareness program, offering youth age 24 and under the opportunity to test their health and safety knowledge.

- Workplace Safety and Insurance Board: The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) oversees Ontario's workplace safety education and training system, provides disability benefits, monitors the quality of health care, and assists in early and safe return to work.

- Young Worker Awareness Programme: A group that offers classroom seminars for youth on health and safety regulations and the consequences of not being informed of your rights to know, participate, and refuse unsafe work.

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