Supervisory Reminder - Summer Students

In some cases, summer students are viewed as a quick fix to cover for vacations and to complete extra projects.  

ORFA members are reminded of the importance of providing both orientation and workplace specific training to all summer hires – both paid and unpaid co-op students or learners on placement must be included. This means that summer staff should be subject to the same training, orientation, supervision and safety requirements as all workers in the workplace.  Please be reminded that supervisors must be familiar with the duty to accommodate regulations for employees contained in both the AODA and in the Human Rights Code.

The Ministry of Labour highlights that young workers are more vulnerable than experienced or older workers. This means that training sessions may need to be tailored specifically to young workers who don’t have a basic level of “common sense” that might be expected from an older or experienced worker. For many year’s, the ORFA has stated that, “there is no such thing as common sense at work” when “common sense” is in fact, a highly transferable skill based on training and experience. Basic hazards may need to be outlined to young workers, procedures may need to be broken into steps, reasons for wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) should be made explicit, and safety rules may need to be thoroughly explained and enforced.

Depending on the work environment, specific safety training such as, working at heights as an example may need to be addressed. Written reminders such as, stickers and signs on equipment that have specific operating requirements should be considered. It is strongly recommended as a best practice that supervisors create a checklist that gets signed off by both the supervisor and the student to confirm that safety information has been shared. 

Supervisors are reminded of basic training that must be provided to all workers:

  • The mandatory basic health and safety awareness training for employees is applicable to all summer students. Students must complete a ministry approved training that includes some form of evaluation. The health and safety awareness training is available online through the Ministry of Labour website and students can print off a certificate of training completion.
  • Students must be made aware of your organization policies and procedures around workplace violence and harassment. Specific hazards to your workplace should be identified, including the method of reporting.
  • When providing student workers with on the job training, best practice is to pair them up with an experienced, safety conscious worker who has good communication skills. It is also a best practice to show new workers where health and safety information is located, including hazard reporting forms, and to introduce them to members or representatives of the Joint Health and Safety Committee.
  • If a young person is expected to play even a minor supervisory role they must have completed both the Occupational Health and Safety Basic awareness and the supervisor level training.
  • Young persons accepting supervisory responsibilities must be prepared to lead by example by wearing PPE’s and following safety procedures. They also need to have the skills to encourage questions and prompt reporting of unsafe or hazardous conditions. It also falls to supervisors to enforce the health and safety rules for the protection of the more inexperienced workers.

A commitment to summer student supervision and safety in the workplace goes a long way to the successful development of the facilities safety culture. Supporting summer students with good supervision and safe practices ensures your employment reputation is respected and that early work experiences are highly impactful to those who start their working career under your leadership.

Additional Resources:

PSHSA - Young Worker Orientation

WSPS - MOL Blitz   

MOL - Protecting New and Young Workers on the Job