back of worker's head. He's wearing a white hat with a sticker that says safety first2022 seems like an ideal time to be a student or young worker looking for a job. There are ‘help wanted’ signs everywhere, and employers are desperate to fill vacant positions. First job opportunities are a great chance to grow, and it’s vital that health and safety is the first thing new and young workers learn. Sadly, for some employers, it’s not even on the list.

Threads of Life conducted a survey this spring, among members of the Angus Reid Forum, to learn more about employers’ hiring intentions and safety programs for young workers. A majority of businesses which responded to the survey – 66 per cent – said they planned to hire as many or more young workers (less than 25 years old) in 2022 than they have in the past two years. While 69 per cent of the employers have an orientation program for new workers, and more than half (51 per cent) have a safety program, a worrying 19 per cent responded that they have no orientation, onboarding, emergency or safety training for new employees.

Many Threads of Life families have devastating personal understanding of the risks faced by workers who are new to the job, or new to the world of work.

“Our life and our family will never be the same,” says Leica Gahan, whose son Jordan drowned when the excavator he was operating broke through ice on a water-filled pit. “We will always miss Jordan. We will never ever get over the hurt of losing our son.  We will always be grieving the loss of our child.”

A 2019 study by the Institute for Work and Health confirmed that new workers – whether they are young or are simply starting a new job – are at greatest risk of serious injury during their first year. In fact, the IWH reports, workers are three times more likely to be hurt in their first month in a job than they are after that first year is behind them.

According to the survey Threads of Life conducted, medium-sized and large businesses are the ones most likely to increase their hiring of young workers. Those larger operations are also more likely to have safety and orientation programs in place, while small and micro-businesses made up a greater proportion of the employers with no safety program at all. 

Because of their own experience with tragedy, Threads of Life families have an intense personal interest in workplace health and safety and are deeply committed to preventing future tragedies. We want to ensure that all employers are aware of the need for extra attention and supervision to keep young workers safe on the job. We also want young workers, and their parents/families to understand the risks they face particularly when starting a new job, and their rights and responsibilities for safety and health.

There are many resources available to inform both employers and workers about health and safety. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety ( is a great place to start, along with ministries of labour, compensation boards and industry safety associations in every province. 

About this Study

These are the findings of a survey conducted by Threads of Life from March 23-25, 2022 among a sample of 545 hiring managers who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a sample of this size would yield a margin of error of +/- 4.2 percentage points at a 95% confidence level. The survey was conducted in English and French.

About the Angus Reid Forum:

The Angus Reid Forum is Canada’s most well-known and trusted online public opinion community consisting of engaged residents across the country who answer surveys on topical issues that matter to all Canadians.

Susan Haldane