Teen's workplace death spurs calls for tighter safety rules
Young employees need to be made aware of their rights, advocate says
There are calls for tougher regulations for teenage workers in this province after a 15-year-old boy was killed at a worksite east of Calgary on the weekend.
The boy died at a gravel site near Drumheller belonging to Arjon Construction on Saturday.
Alberta Occupational Health and Safety has launched an investigation while the gravel site remains under a stop work order.
"He was definitely a vulnerable worker,” said Candace Martens, who teaches young people about workplace safety at the Calgary Worker's Resource Centre.
Many young workers are simply unaware of their rights, she said.
"They don't know they do have the right to refuse unsafe work if there's imminent danger, they don't know that they need to be trained properly how to use machinery, what's the proper safety equipment, how to do the job properly."
According to the Alberta Federation of Labour, Alberta's employment standards for young workers are among the most lax in Canada.
"We need to be doing more obviously. Kids should not be dying at work,” said federation spokesperson Siobhan Vipond.
Vipond is hoping the deadly accident will prompt officials to tighten the rules.
"We need mandatory training and certification when it comes to forklift and other large equipment operations. We need to see targeted inspections,” Vipond said.
And the federation says employers who hire 15 to 17 year olds should be required to provide special training on safety and their rights at work.