Safety is everyone’s responsibility

Dear Working Wise: My son just started his first full-time with a construction supplies company and I am a little worried about his safety.

Dear Working Wise:

My son just started his first full-time with a construction supplies company and I am a little worried about his safety.

Wood and other heavy items are piled high, he’s expected to use a power saw, and there are fork lifts and trucks driving around the yard all the time.

He’s an adult now, but how can I help him stay safe at work? Signed, Worried Mom

Dear Worried Mom:

You are right to be concerned—younger workers do have a higher risk on injury.

Safety is everyone’s responsibility. Your son’s employer is responsible for making the workplace as safe as possible and your son has to work safely.

The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act requires employers to:

l Keep equipment in safe working order;

l Label and store dangerous chemicals properly;

l Inform workers of any dangers on the job site;

l Develop safe work procedures and ensure workers follow them;

l Ensure workers perform their duties as required by the OHS legislation;

l Arrange for medical assessments for workers exposed to specific hazards;

l Monitor workers who may be exposed to hazards such as chemicals or noise;

l Ensure workers have the training and experience needed to do their jobs safely.

Workers must:

l Take reasonable care to keep themselves and co-workers safe;

l Wear personal protective equipment required by their employer;

l Take and follow health and safety training provided by their employer;

l Ask for training if they do not feel confident or safe;

l Follow health and safety work procedures developed by their employer;

l Refuse work that may put them or another worker in “imminent danger”;

l Report unsafe or malfunctioning equipment to the employer immediately;

l Avoid tasks they are not competent to do unless they are being supervised.

Employers and workers can report incidents or dangerous situations by calling the Workplace Health and Safety Contact Centre toll-free at 1-866-415-8690 or 780-415-8690 in Edmonton.

The good news is that fewer Albertans are getting hurt on the job. Alberta’s workplace injury rate hit a record low last year with 110 injuries compared to 166 in 2008.

But, one injury is too many.

You can help your son stay safe at work by encouraging him to ask his supervisor about the hazards of his job and how to avoid injuries.

You can ensure he understands his responsibilities to work safely and what he should expect his employer to be doing to keep the workplace safe for everyone.

You can encourage him to check out the New and Young Worker safety tips on our web site at http://employment.alberta.ca/whs.

And, you can check out his employer’s safety record. Alberta Employment and Immigration has posted the worksite injury records of more than 140,000 Alberta employers insured by the Workers’ Compensation Board.

The database allows you to search by employer name, industry, and city/town. Check it out at: http://www.employment.alberta.ca/employerrecords.

Good luck!

Working Wise is compiled by Charles Strachey of Alberta Employment and Immigration (charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca) for general information.