According to BuildForce Canada, an estimated 132,700 workers of the labor force, will retire between the years of 2018-2027 and will have to be replaced.
There will be an estimated 125,800 new entrants to the construction workforce aged 30 and younger.
Although yoru workers bring a welcome energy and enthusiasm to the work site, many of them are not able to see hazardous situations and objects.
As a result, young construction workers are at a greater than average risk of death or injury in the workplace.
Construction and safety associations are certainly aware of the dangers young workers face. The BCCSA also has a hazard awareness training program to help young workers identify risks. In addition to the BCCSA, WorkSafeBC has safety programs aimed at young and new workers. The Young Worker Speaker program was created to help secondary schools and parent advisory councils that are interested in young worker health and safety. WorkSafeBC spokeswoman Erica Simpson says the program, which deals with youth health and safety on the job, supplies speakers with unique expertise and experience.
The idea behind the program is that the best way to educate young workers about safety is to let them hear from people their own age who have experienced a serious workplace injury. By doing this they will be more likely to listen and comprehend the importance of safety. Young construction worker injuries and deaths are a multi-faceted problem. When a young worker is injured or killed the impact goes beyond the emotional aspects.
The industry needs to recognize and act on the added risk young workers face.
“I’m not talking about the annual young worker safety campaigns that stress the right to refuse unsafe work or raise awareness of hazards,” Bogyo says. “That’s a bottom-up approach. We need a top-down change in what is important on a work site.” Bogyo says young workers’ enthusiasm to prove themselves will lead them to do what the boss wants. Supervisors need to make it clear all the time that safety trumps production.
If every communication, every interaction between a young worker and the supervisor includes safety messages, site safety will increase and violations of safe-work procedures will decrease.
In Saskatchewan, for example, people under 18 cannot work underground or in any activity that requires the use of an atmosphere-supplying respirator.
People under 16 cannot work on a construction site or in a woodworking establishment.
Another approach to tackling young worker safety is training. “Each state has its own version and nuances but, similar to the Red Seal idea, a White Card from one jurisdiction is accepted in others.”
Bogyo says the White Card system doesn’t completely relieve employers from their responsibilities to orient and train new workers.