Monday, December 5, 2011

OHS and ES experiences of young Ontario workers

Alan Hall and colleagues from the University of Windsor have released a preliminary report into the incidence of health and safety and employment standards violations and reporting among young workers (mostly between 16 and 24) in Ontario. This report contains a number of interesting findings related to workplace injury:

“Sixty-eight of the workers reported that they had performed unsafe work tasks in their current job and over 7% said that they had done this often or very often.” (p.3)

“Among the reasons given for performing or accepting unsafe work, the most commonly reported were: 1) they thought they could avoid injury by being careful (30.2%); 2) they thought it was just part of the job (24.9%); and, 3) they were worried about other potential negative reactions by their employers or supervisors (20.6%).” (p.4)

“With respect to injuries causing time off work, 87.5 % reported that they had never been injured, while 8.3 % cited one injury, 2.1 % two injuries and 2.1 % more than two. When asked if all or some of these injuries were reported officially to the Workplace Safety insurance Board, 62% of the workers (N= 27) indicate that one or more of their injuries was never reported even though the injury was serious enough to miss work.” (p.5)

There were also some interesting items related to employment standards:

The 439 respondents “reported 1129 violations across eleven different employment standards. … it is more than likely that this number significantly underestimates the actual number of violations, in as much as many workers have expressed to us that the category “three or more times” failed to capture many situations where the violations were routine and sometimes daily.” (p.8)

“Although the experience of violations is relatively widespread among the respondents, and some respondents have experienced multiple violations of several different standards, most workers with violations (65%) have never filed a complaint.” (p.9)

“With the exception of the minimum wage where 65% of the respondents answered correctly, only a small minority of the workers knew the other standards.” (p.10)

While only a preliminary report, the results suggest widespread noncompliance with statutory requirements. It also suggests that there are important differences between OHS and ES compliance.

-- Bob Barnetson

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