FEDERAL — Canada’s federal labour minister is promoting workplace safety to high school students with a national video contest.
The annual “It’s Your Job” challenge, launched on November 1, encourages secondary school students across the country to produce social media videos about workplace safety that are two minutes or shorter in length, and upload them to video-sharing website Vimeo. Entrants must submit by March 28, and top videos from each province and territory will appear on the contest’s YouTube channel from May 4 to 12.
“We’re asking young Canadians to put together videos that would appeal to their colleagues,” says Dr K. Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women, who visited the Central Technical School in Toronto on February 7 to promote the contest. Dr Leitch, who is also a licenced pediatric orthopedic surgeon, launched the original contest in 2011 “to raise awareness among these young workers about safety on the job. “We know that a quarter of all occupational injuries occur in individuals between the ages of 15 and 29.”
The makers of the first-place video will receive a $2,000 prize; the second- and third-place entrants will get $1,500 and $1,000 respectively. There is also a $1,000 Fan Favourite prize for the video that gets the most votes from Canadian YouTube viewers. The three top videos will be chosen by a panel of nine celebrity judges, including TV hosts Jim Caruk and Mag Ruffman, Free the Children co-founder Marc Kielburger and Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety president Steve Horvath.
According to Dr Leitch, roundtable discussions with young people across Canada have informed her that videos were the best way to communicate with them. People under 25 years old watch videos on devices, such as computers, phones and iPads far more than they read newspapers, she notes.
Background information from the federal government points out that among workers aged 15 to 24, males’ injury rates were twice as high as those of females from 2005 and 2011. According to WorkSafeBC, more than 50 per cent of serious injuries and deaths of workers in that age group happen in the first six months on the job, with nearly one-fifth occurring in the first month.
“Anyone who’s new on a jobsite doesn’t necessarily anticipate the other things going on on the jobsite,” says Dr Leitch, who notes that risky behaviour is often a contributing factor, especially among male workers. “It is very important to communicate, in a very focused way, with those young men the extent of the devastating injury that they can endure if they do not follow the rules in the workplace. One misstep beside a big crane, one misstep beside a large auger, can cost you your fingers, toes or maybe your life.”