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B.C. Acts to protect young and new workers

WorkSafeBC has announced changes (to Part 3 of this province's Occupational Health & Safety Regulations) pertaining to new and young workers. These changes are specifically intended to address the extraordinarily high injury rates amongst these categories of employees.
 
Statistics show that more than half of all work-related incidents occur during a young worker's first six months on the job. In 2005, 11 young workers died on the job, 151 were seriously injured, and more than 9,000 others were injured.
 
The injury rate of young workers is more than twice that of the overall worker population (and is on the rise). New workers, regardless of their age, carry five to seven times the risk of sustaining a workplace injury in their first month on the job. Contrary to the overall trend, injuries to young workers were up 31% between 2001 and 2005.
 
Any way you look at them, these are sobering figures. They add up to the indisputable conclusion that employers are not doing their job when it comes to protecting their young and new workers.
 
As a result, as of July 26, 2007 every employer hiring new or young workers will have to comply with new Regulations relating to orientation and training. All employers will be required to ensure young or new workers are given health and safety orientation and training, specific to their workplace, before they begin work.
 
In the Regulations, a "young" worker is any worker who is under 25 years of age. A "new" worker is anyone who is: new to the workplace; returning to a workplace at which hazards in that workplace have changed; affected by a change in the hazards of a workplace; or relocated to a new workplace (if the hazards in that workplace are
different from the hazards in the worker's previous workplace).
 
The required orientation and training must address 13 subject areas. These include information on workplace heath and safety rules, hazards to which the worker may be exposed (including risks from robbery, assault, or confrontation), working alone, personal protective equipment, and violence in the workplace. The complete list of required topics may be accessed on-line from WorkSafeBC's home page at www.worksafebc.com.
 
Additional training must be provided if the employer detects that a young or new worker is unable to perform work tasks or work processes safely or when the young or new worker requests additional training. The employer must document all its orientation and training efforts.
 
These changes to the Regulations appear to be, at least partially, in response to the 2005 death of gas bar attendant Grant DePatie in Maple Ridge, B.C. That workplace tragedy sparked a province-wide debate about workplace safety rules.
 
Grant DePatie was working late in the evening at an Esso station when two men arrived and filled their vehicle with gas. The accident occurred when DePatie attempted to stop them leaving without paying. He was killed after being dragged a lengthy distance by the vehicle. A 16 year old male was subsequently charged with second degree murder.
 
WorkSafeBC's Board of Directors has also approved that proposed amendments (to Part 4 of the Regulations) relating to prepayment for fuel at gas stations and other retail fuel outlets, be revised and released to a second public hearing. The Directors requested that the proposed amendments be revised to apply province-wide and be in effect 24 hours per day. These revised proposed amendments will be taken to public hearings in June, 2007.
 
To assist employers in achieving timely compliance with the new safety requirements in Part 3 of the Regulations, B.C.'s Employers' Advisers Office will be presenting information sessions free of charge during the month of June.   The Employers' Advisers Office may be contacted at 1-866-855-7575. Registration information may be obtained at http://www.labour.gov.bc.ca/eao/.