Advocacy for the Modern Workplace: A Blog on Young Workers Rights
calendar icon May 16th, 2023
Advocacy for the Modern Workplace: A Blog on Young Workers Rights

Did you know that workers aged 15 – 24 are three times more likely to be injured on the job than experienced workers? Protecting the health and safety of all workers should be a top priority. Starting prevention education today is a great step in the right direction in creating safer workplaces of tomorrow.


For Workers: Know Your Rights

Whether you are a student (or the parent of a young person) thinking about finding work, in the interview process, just started at a first job, or are already working, safety matters.


Health and safety teachings aren’t all up to the employer. Workers have rights and responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), including the right to refuse dangerous and unsafe work. To protect yourself and your co-workers, knowing your rights and responsibilities for health and safety.


As a worker, you have the responsibility to:

  • Protect yourself and your co-workers from harm
  • Report hazards or injuries to your manager
  • Follow the health and safety rules
  • Use safety gear required for the job


For Employers: Protecting the Most Vulnerable in Your Workplace

Regarding young and vulnerable workers, OHSA also outlines the roles and responsibilities of Ontario employers and supervisors. As an employer, helping young workers understand the hazards of their job and how they can work safely can create more than just a physically safe environment but also an environment where workers feel confident in their work.


As an employer, you are obligated to:

  • Inform workers of the hazards in your workplace
  • Ensure safety gear is available and being used
  • Provide training
  • Implement and enforce workplace health and safety policies
  • Provide a safe and healthy workplace


When hiring, considering things like degree of skill, responsibility, and tasks helps keep young workers safe in roles they may not be prepared to take on. Along with the position, the minimum age for your sector needs to be considered. The minimum age for employment in Ontario is 14. However, there are exemptions for factory work (15), logging and construction projects (16) and underground mining (18).


For Educators: Protecting Future Workers

The Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) is doing all it can to ensure their high school students are getting the required Health & Safety training as they become part of the workforce.


From April 28 to May 4, the board hosted a health and safety week for all staff and students to help build its health and safety culture and continual improvement. They highlighted innovation, responsiveness and occupational health and safety (OHS) leadership with events that had all 13,000 secondary students completing the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training, and Skills Development (MLITSD)’s “Worker Health and Safety Awareness Training in Four Steps.” In addition, they provided information packages throughout the event to further promote awareness through accident injury stats (staff & students), worker rights, Internal Responsibility System and hazard awareness/prevention to all staff and students.


“We combined both Workers Day of Mourning and Occupational Safety and Health Day to create our Board’s “Health & Safety Week.”  We recognize the importance of supporting and nurturing a safety and health culture in every workplace.  We also recognize that accidents and injuries affect workers, students, their families and our community.  Our Board’s “Health & Safety Week” initiatives provided an opportunity to promote workplace safety and health through education of safety and health, rights, duties, responsibilities and prevention measures.”  - Tim Lauzon, I. H., E.P., Health & Safety Officer, GECDSB.


It's never too early to learn about health and safety in the workplace to prevent injuries, illnesses and death. These types of events are essential in protecting the future of our workforce.



For job-specific tasks, show young workers how tasks can be completed safely and make corrections where necessary.


Mandatory Compliance Training:

Mandatory compliance training aims to improve occupational health and safety for Ontario's workforce. The requirements for mandatory compliance training apply to all workplaces covered under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, regardless of workplace size or sector. PSHSA offers mandatory compliance training across our various sectors and can help you understand your organization's health and safety program requirements.

Learn more here.


Workplace Training That Fits Your Workplace:

Set your employees up for success with customized digital training programs that educate, motivate and influence. Whether health and safety, technical skills or any unique training needs, give your team a competitive edge with effective learning content tailored to your workplace.

Learn more here.


More training:

Slips Trips and Fall Prevention eLearning

Training the Fit Tester for Respiratory Protection Distance Learning Training Program

Infection Prevention and Control at Work: Basic Awareness Training

Workplace Harassment eLearning

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) eLearning

Ladder Safety eLearning

eOfficeErgo: Ergonomics eLearning for Office Workers




New and Vulnerable Workers | PSHSA

Young workers: Protect yourselves at work! | Government of Canada

Worker Health and Safety Awareness Training in Four Steps | Ontario Government

Young workers’ rights | Ontario Government

For Workers | CCOHS

Young Workers | CCOHS

For Employers | CCOHS