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Richmond, B.C., July 26, 2007—Beginning today, B.C.'s almost 350,000 young workers or workers new to a job site will have increased protection as amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation come into effect.
The amendments require employers to provide all young or new workers with orientation and training specific to the work site and to record and document that training. It also defines “new workers”. The documentation must be available for inspection by a WorkSafeBC safety officer should it be requested.
A young worker is between 15 and 24 years of age while a new worker is defined as “any worker who is new to the workplace, returning to a workplace where the hazards in that workplace have changed during the worker's absence, 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 amendments were the result of proposed Regulatory changes taken to public consultation through the fall and winter of 2006. As a result of the consultation, changes were made to the proposed amendment which was then passed by WorkSafeBC's Board of Directors in late March to come into force July 26, 2007.
“Too many of our young or new workers are injured soon after employment. We believe up front training and orientation specific to the job site will help change that”, said Betty Pirs WorkSafeBC's Executive Director, Prevention Services.
According to WorkSafeBC statistics, every working day 36 young workers are injured and five are permanently disabled each week. In 2006, 10,893 young workers were injured in workplace accidents – nine of these were fatal.
“This will be good for job sites as those already employed will know that the workers new to the site have been trained and oriented to the risks or hazards specific to their workplace,” said Grant McMillan, Chair of the Construction Safety Association of British Columbia in support of the amended Regulation.
To help employers implement the new Regulation WorkSafeBC has posted a sample worker orientation checklist with explanatory notes at www.worksafebc.com. At the same site will be a copy of the new Regulation, a backgrounder with information about how to conduct an orientation session. Each employer will be responsible for developing its own in-house method of training and documenting workers new to the workplace.
Serving 2.2 million workers and about 190,000 employers, WorkSafeBC is a provincial statutory agency governed by a Board of Directors and funded by employers. WorkSafeBC was born out of a compromise between BC's workers and employers in 1917 where workers gave up the right to sue their employers or fellow workers for injuries on the job in return for a no-fault insurance program fully paid for by employers. WorkSafeBC is committed to a safe and healthy workplace and to providing return-to-work rehabilitation and legislated compensation benefits to workers injured as a result of their employment.
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