'The blame, although often directed at the worker, falls on the employer'
The five recipients of the 2019 Workers Health & Safety Centre (WHSC) post-secondary scholarships all agreed that employers are responsible for arming new-hires with the knowledge they need to be safe in the workplace.
The winners of the 19th annual WHSC scholarship contest were asked to write an essay about the factors that cause new workers to be vulnerable at work and the steps that employers can take to ensure their safety — and they all said that employers must take responsibility.
“The blame, although often directed at the worker, falls on the employer,” explains Jamiel Nasser, scholarship recipient and graduate of Windsor’s W.F. Herman Academy—Secondary, citing the dominant use of videos as a passive form of training. In a release from WHSC, Nasser explained that this form of training is not enough to prepare workers for work.
David Hewitt, a graduate of Belle River’s St. Anne Catholic High School, meanwhile said employers must “provide workers with proper health and safety awareness training, introduce new workers to joint health and safety committee members so they know who to approach with health and safety concerns and assign competent supervisors to especially oversee new workers.”
Scholarship recipient Diana Figliomeni, graduate of Lake Superior High School in Terrace Bay, pointed out the new workers agree to work despite not feeling safe as they act under fear. Should she be an employer, she would create “an environment where workers are confident they won’t face illegal reprisals for raising health and safety concerns or even refusing unsafe work.”
These three award recipients each received scholarships of $1,000 each.
The contest also includes two top memorial scholarships of $2,000 each. Clifford Pilkey memorial scholarship recipient Alexa Mognon, a graduate of Windsor’s Assumption College Catholic High School, recognized the need to engage workers in the prevention process. Fred Upshaw memorial scholarship awardee Jade Ritter, a graduate of Centre Wellington District High School in Fergus, cites the importance of continuous learning as workplaces and potential hazards constantly evolve.
“I applaud the many students who took the time to participate in this scholarship initiative,” said Dave Killham, executive director of WHSC, in a news release. “I am so encouraged. This next generation has it in them to be agents for change, insisting on safer, healthier work and more just communities.”