Only one in five new workers receive safety training in Canada

In brief

  • Provincial mandates to provide safety training to new employees do not guarantee that this training will happen, even in high-risk groups.
  • A greater commitment is required from policy-makers, workplaces and workers to ensure that all workers are adequately informed and protected from workplace hazards.

Published: January 2007

Why was this study done?

New workers face a high risk of a work-related injury. Health and safety training can provide information about hazards or safety procedures in their new workplaces. In most Canadian provinces, employers are legally required to provide this type of training. However, there is currently no routine surveillance to see whether workplaces comply with these obligations. The purpose of this study was to examine the provision of safety training to Canadian workers in their first year on a new job.

How was the study done?

The researchers used information collected through Statistics Canada's Workplace and Employee Survey. Each year, this survey collects information from a national sample of employers and employers. As part of the survey, participants are asked about the training they have received in the past 12 months. In the surveys from 1999, 2001 and 2003, there were 5,671 respondents who had been with their current employer for less than one year. Researchers analyzed the provision of safety training based on factors related to the employee, such as age and job tenure. They also looked at job-related factors such as work hours and physical demands, and employer characteristics such as type of industry and workplace size.

What did the reviewers find?

Only one in five employees (21 per cent) had received safety training in their first year with a new employer. In Ontario, the rate was 28 per cent. Those who were more likely to receive training were workers with access to family and support programs, women in medium-sized workplaces and in manufacturing jobs, and men in large workplaces and in part-time jobs. Young workers and employees in jobs with higher physical demands — which are both associated with a greater risk of injury — were not more likely to have received safety training.

What are some strengths and weaknesses of the study?

The study included a large number and variety of workplaces from across the country. One limitation is that employers provided a list of employees, from which some were randomly selected for an interview. These employer lists might not represent all employees in the workplace.