New and Young Workers: They’re Worth Your Attention

Many small businesses are built around the expertise of key individuals who play a crucial role in the success of your business. Often, these talented individuals are younger than 25 — a group WorkSafeBC refers to as young workers.

Now imagine if one of these workers was injured at work and couldn’t come in for an indefinite period of time. Ask yourself how this would affect your business:

  • Would your day-to-day operations continue as usual?
  • Could you maintain your current level of performance and revenue stream?
  • Could you afford the time and cost of hiring and training a temporary replacement?

You’d probably answer, “No,” to these questions.

No one expects to be hurt at work and as employers, you want all of your staff to go home safely every day. Though it’s difficult to prevent all injuries from occurring, you can still reduce the likelihood of these incidents at your small business.

New and Young Workers’ Health and Safety

The greatest number of WorkSafeBC claims made by young workers is due to overexertion, being hit by objects and falling.

Research and our claims data has also shown that young workers are most at risk of being injured when they are new to their jobs. More than half of all serious injuries occur during the first six months of employment.

Leading occupational health and safety researchers have studied why young workers get hurt on the job more frequently than their older counterparts. According to Dr. Curtis Breslin and Dr. Peter Smith of the Institute for Work and Health, isn’t because of characteristics we typically associate with risky behaviour — age, gender and personality — that contribute to the increased injury rate among young workers. It’s workplace factors that have the most influence, such as working around hazards, work overload and lack of training and supervision.

Retaining talent and developing workers is a goal for most small businesses, so try from the outset to set an example of how you want your workers to be safe and healthy in their jobs. One of the first chances to set this example is through a young worker’s training and orientation.

What You Can Do to Help

There are a number of components to young and new worker orientation and training. Here are three essential elements to prevent workplace injuries.

Use a Checklist

This can make the orientation easier to follow and more thorough. It can also serve as a record of employee training. that you can customize to meet the orientation needs of your workplace.

Train Young and New Workers

You need to train workers with particular focus on:

  • Performing tasks safely
  • Operating machines and equipment safely
  • Using and maintaining any required personal protective equipment, such as gloves or goggles
  • Following safe work procedures

Document and Replay

Have your workers show you how to do the task after training. This helps you ensure it will be done correctly. It’s also important to document your workers’ training and keep it with their files.

As an employer, you want good workers who can be productive and stay health and safe at the same time. The good news is that there’s no trade secret to making this happen. You have all the tools and elements you need — and it starts with a great orientation and training.

For more information and young and new worker orientation and training, visit

Learn More

Are you taking advantage of Small Business BC’s wide selection of seminars for entrepreneurs and small to medium-sized business owners? Space is limited, so don’t miss your chance to register today.

And if you want specific questions answered for your business, make an appointment to meet with a Small Business BC Business Advisor or if you have HR questions, book a meeting with Small Business BC’s Ask an HR Professional service now.