It’s possible to get hurt on the job in just about any workplace, but I imagine that most people picture an industrial setting when they think of workplace injuries. Not so. In fact, restaurants are the number-one location for young worker injuries. The second most common workplace is supermarkets, followed by general retail. Injuries include such things as knife slices, strains, fractures, and severe burns.
You may have noticed that I’ve specified “young” workers here. That’s because, according to WorkSafeBC, young workers are at a much higher risk of injury than workers of any other age group. Here are some stats to ponder:
Each hour in BC one young worker is hurt on the job.
Each day in BC, 36 young workers are hurt on the job.
Every week, five of these workers are permanently injured.
In 2003, nine young workers were killed in work-related accidents.
But why is the safety record so dismal for young workers? WorkSafeBC research found a list of common reasons, including:
Inexperience and lack of training
Lack of confidence or understanding of their rights as workers
Lack of preparation for the workplace
Asked to do more dangerous jobs
Sense of youthful invincibility
Unwillingness to ask questions
Distracted – thinking of other things happening in their lives, i.e. homework, socializing, that new car, etc.
Pace of work
There are many things that you as a younger worker (or anyone, really) can do to prevent injury at work. Officially, the majority of these things involve rules and regulations set up by WorkSafeBC and followed by unions, employees, and management—and that’s fine, they have their place.
However, unofficially, I would argue that the most important thing you can do as a worker is use your common sense. Be aware of where you are and what’s happening around you. Learn to use equipment properly and don’t scoff at all that awkward or silly safety equipment. If you’re doing something that’s potentially dangerous, make sure other workers around you are aware of this. And if you think a task is too dangerous, you have the right to refuse to do it without fear of losing pay or hours.
Knowing that you followed the rules is no compensation if you still get hurt (or hurt someone else) because you were oblivious or distracted.
I know of what I speak! I haven’t always had a desk job. As a young university student, one of my summer jobs was as a surface worker at a nickel mine. One day, two other student labourers and I had the unenviable task of hosing out the crud at the bottom of a drained settling tank. We did all the right things: kitted out in safety gear, tagged out the valves to the tank (so that no one would turn them on accidentally), and had someone watching out for us outside the tank. But just one minute before we were about to crawl back in after lunch, hundreds of gallons of boiling hot water came gushing out the entry hatch. We came that close to severe full-body burns or even death because someone else working nearby thought the tag on the valve was an old one. I got the impression at the time that workers at the mine were notorious for not removing tags after completing a job, or not using them at all.
My point here is that the student labourers were treated as a group apart from the full-time workers—we were just not on their radar. Perhaps if we’d been more confident in ourselves—and more aware of the potential dangers—we would have insisted on a real person watching the valves instead of just a ratty old paper tag. But we didn’t know the workplace culture and we naively believed that everyone else would follow the rules, as we did. In the end, it was just dumb luck that saved us.
This is an extreme example, but I hope you take it to heart. The bottom line is that you are the only one who can be responsible for your own safety at work.
For more official advice, regulations, and research see:
Are you considering starting your own business? Community Futures Powell River can assist you! We deliver the Self Employment Services under the Employment Program of British Columbia. Self Employment Services provides a 48-week-long program that assists participants in developing and launching their own businesses. We work closely with you to help you build a sustainable business.
The first year in business is often challenging. Many businesses fail in this initial period because of a lack of training and assistance. We offer personal business coaching and training. Some of the areas we offer you training in include Business Plan Development, Cash Flow Forecasting, Break Even Analysis, Pricing and Costing Your Product, Understanding Financial Statements, Business Operations, Marketing, Human Resource Management, and much more.
Do you need previous business experience?
No you do not. Along with a viable business concept, you need to possess strong entrepreneurial skills, self-motivation, and a passion for what you want to do.
Do you need to invest in your new business?
You may need to invest in your business. Writing a business plan will help you to identify what capital you may need to launch your business.
Do you qualify?
Your first step is to contact an Employment Counsellor at Career Link: Vist Career LinkWorkBC Employment Services Centre at #103, 4511 Marine Avenue
Powell River, British Columbia, Canada V8A 2K5
Or contact us for more information at: Community Futures Powell River, 4717 Marine Avenue, Powell River, BC V8A 2L2
Self Employment Graduates
Cris, along with his daughter Romina, run CrisP Office Solutions, which celebrates its 2nd anniversary in September 2014.
CrisP Office Solutions is an authorized dealer/reseller of Konica Minolta and Xerox copiers, printers, and multifunction devices. The wide range of desktop, full size, and production printing equipment can be customized to anyone’s needs, whether you run a small home business, a full service print shop, or anything in between. CrisP Office Solutions also sells a wide range of office products such as shredders, cutters and trimmers, multimedia projectors, scanners, and off-line finishing equipment for mailrooms and print shops.
Before moving to Powell River 3 years ago, Cris spent over 10 years as a field technician in the copier industry, so he’s seen it all! He offers service and repairs on many brands of printing devices, and best of all, as a local businessman, he is often at your door within 30 minutes of your call!
Cris’s daughter, Romina, spent over 8 years as a client trainer in the copier industry before leaving in April 2014 to devote more time to the family business. Romina’s expertise is in helping clients get the most out of their equipment through a combination of customized cheat sheets, on-site training, and phone and email support when needed.
Between the two of them, they offer a level of service not seen before in Powell River and the rest of the Sunshine Coast!
“Two years ago the entire Community Futures team helped us get CrisP Office Solutions off the ground. They were immensely helpful in helping me become a business owner after a lifetime of being an employee. They still provide invaluable support that enables my daughter and me to continue succeeding after two years in business.” – Cris Pavel, Owner, CrisP Office Solutions.