Alberta young worker safety videos don't address training, supervision: unions

EDMONTON - A labour group is giving Alberta's gory video campaign aimed at reducing injuries among young workers the thumbs down.

The $850,000 government campaign features six graphic videos of young workers getting hurt on the job, including a grocery clerk cutting off his fingers in a slicing machine, complete with lots of fake blood.

The Alberta Federation of Labour said Wednesday that it supports using edgy videos to reach young people, but it is wrong to send the message that workers are solely responsible for such injuries.

The videos should also emphasize that managers must ensure that employees are properly trained and supervised, and that young people must understand that they have the legal right to refuse unsafe work.

"Injuries are caused by a series of poor decisions by both the employer and worker," federation president Gil McGowan said. "Lack of training, rushed pace of work and cutting safety corners lead to injuries - a point completely missed by these ads."

In Alberta, young people make up 17 per cent of the work force but account for almost one-quarter of disabled injury claims.

McGowan said Ontario has done a better job of reaching out to young workers because its ads highlight how employer decisions and worker decisions combine to cause accidents.

In one Ontario ad, a dead electrical worker rises from his coffin to proclaim "Accident? What are you talking about? Your company never fully trained me to work on high voltage wires." The corpse also regrets not using his safety equipment.

"The Ontario campaign is much more effective because it tries to convey a full message about how to prevent accidents. Alberta should have adopted their approach," he said.

The Ontario ads can be seen at

The Institute for Work and Health has found that only about one in five employees in Canada receives safety training during the first year with a new employer.

More than 50,000 workers under the age of 24 lost time from work after being injured on the job in 2006, according to the Association of Workers' Compensation Boards of Canada. Another 51 died at work.

The real injury numbers are higher because many mishaps go unreported, experts say.

660News, Wed Oct 29 2008

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