Every job requires you to have the right training and tools to do the work. It’s the same with keeping yourself safe on the job.
You need the right information at the start of your employment so that you’re aware of any workplace risks. You also need ongoing training to keep up with safety policies and procedures so you know how to protect yourself and your co-workers from possible hazards.
People do not plan or expect to get hurt on the job. But it happens. Injuries can range from a cut on your finger to the loss of an arm or leg. Some injuries mean you will never be able to walk, or drive a car, again. Some keep getting worse as you get older. And every year, some people die because of workplace injuries.
Did you know?
- Men are 4 times more likely to get hurt at work than women.
- In just 1 year in Alberta (2019):
- There were over 50,000 workplace injury
- 129 people died from workplace-related illness or injury.
Are you a high-risk worker?
It might be the job you have, how old you are, or something completely different that puts you at risk on the job. There are lots of different types of workplace hazards and risks.
You may be at risk because you do not:
- Know your workplace safety rights and responsibilities
- Have enough workplace training (or any at all)
- Want to seem like you don’t know what you’re doing
- Really believe you can be hurt
- Want co-workers to think less of you
You may also be at higher risk if you:
- Are given dangerous jobs
- Get distracted in your surroundings
- Have to multitask (think about more than 1 thing at a time)
- Work at a slow, or a fast, pace
Stay safe while working alone
Some jobs, such as service station attendants, require you to work alone. Working alone can increase your risk of being targeted by criminals. And, if you have a workplace accident, there's no one there to provide immediate help. Here are some tips to make your job safer when working alone:
- Buy a small safe to use often during the night. The less money that's easily available to steal, the less likely you'll be targeted by thieves.
- Put the cash register near the front windows. Then people can see what is happening inside.
- Use a security system.
- Take a robbery prevention course on what to do if there is a robbery.
- Use security glass between you and the customers.
Note: Workers must have a way to contact people if there is an emergency. For example, they may use a phone or a 2-way radio to call for help.
Vaughn liked playing sports and doing outdoor activities. At work one day, he got a severe electrical shock while working near a high-voltage power line. He lost an arm and a leg, and he had third-degree burns on 70% of his body. Vaughn’s life changed forever. He realized he should have refused to do a task near a power line. His wife, family, and friends suffered their own intense pain as they watched him fight hard for his life.
If you’re under 25, you’re higher risk
Consider these facts:
- Workers who are between 15 and 24 years old are at the highest risk for getting a disabling injury.
- Young males are more likely than young females to get hurt.
- More than 50% of all safety incidents with young or new workers happen in their first 6 months on the job.
Top 5 types of dangerous work for young people
For 15- to 19-year-olds, the most dangerous types of work are:
- Lifting, causing muscle and ligament sprains, strains, and tears
- Falling, causing muscle and ligament sprains, strains, tears, and broken bones
- Working with knives, causing cuts and gashes
- Working with hot objects, causing burns
- Working with a cart or dolly, causing muscle and ligament sprains, strains, and tears
For 20- to 24-year-olds, working at height also becomes a major safety risk, causing muscle sprains, strains, tears, and broken bones.
There are resources and online courses designed especially to help young workers learn how to stay safe at work.
Tim was 19 when he got a summer job with a party rental company. Less than 2 months after he started, he was killed at work. He’d been asked to raise an aluminum pole from inside a tent. But Tim couldn’t see a 14,400-volt power line above the tent, only about 8 metres off the ground. Tim was electrocuted and died instantly. Tim was asked to do something dangerous at work.
Your risk levels
Many factors can increase your risk for workplace injury. Which of the following are true for you?
Be prepared and stay safe
Safety hazard, safety risk: What’s the difference?
A safety hazard is anything that could harm you or other people. For example, a knife is a hazard because it might cause a cut. A wet floor is a hazard because it might cause you to fall.
A safety risk is the chance, or likelihood, that you’ll get hurt. For example, if you work in the agriculture or forestry sector, you’re at greater risk of injury than if you work in the business sector.
Take the following steps on the job to keep yourself as safe as possible:
- Know your workplace rights and how to speak out about them. You do not have to do work that might put you or others in danger.
- Know the rules at your workplace.
- Know your responsibilities, as well as those of your supervisor and employer.
- Make sure you have the proper orientation and training.
- Know how to spot and deal with hazards.
- Use the right protective clothing and equipment.
- Communicate with your team.
If there’s something you don’t know or don’t understand, ask your supervisor before you take any chances.
It only takes 1 accident, which can happen in just seconds, to change your life—and your family’s life—forever. So take time to think about your workplace and how you do your job. Learn how to prevent accidents and protect yourself and your co-workers.