Talking to your kids about workplace safety

Here’s some advice for parents on talking to your kids about safety at work. Start the conversation early and encourage them to ask questions. 

Photo of mother and teen daughter in conversation

Photo credit: iStock.com/michaeljung

I’m sure we’ve all seen (and maybe been) little kids who love watching construction workers use big machines. Today my son is nearly an adult, but in the past we watched a lot of construction projects. I had fond memories of this time when I chatted with WorkSafeBC industry specialist Helen Chandler about Keeping your kids safe at work: A guide for parents.

I asked Helen how parents can start the conversation about workplace safety with their kids. She said a good time to bring it up is when you first begin talking with them about wearing a helmet while riding a bike.

She told me that when her son was interested in looking at all the big machinery on construction sites, she would point out the construction workers.

“I’d say to him: ‘See the hard hats they’re wearing to protect their heads? It’s like the hard hat you wear to protect your head when you’re on your scooter or bike.’”

Encourage kids to ask questions when looking for work

Once kids are ready for their first jobs, it’s important that they ask questions about safety during job interviews.

“It’s a great thing for them to ask because it shows the employer that they understand safety,” Helen says. “It also gives them an idea of the safety culture at the workplace. They’ll know it’s a good employer if they understand safety and talk about safety orientation, training, and the personal protective equipment they will provide.”

Parents also need to keep conversations going after young workers start new jobs. Encourage your kids to ask questions if they don’t understand something or feel they need more training.

“When you start a job, you’re often hit with a deluge of information and it’s hard to take everything in,” says Helen. “It’s okay to say: ‘I missed a part about that particular piece of equipment. Could you run it by me again?’”

Helen and her team are sharing the updated guide with parents throughout B.C. at education conferences, events, and online. This version of the guide includes input from Jessica Kruger, who was seriously injured at work when she was 14, and her mom, Mary.

Thanks to Helen for telling me about her work and her own experience as a mom. Do you have any stories about talking with your kids about safety or your own first jobs? Do let me know in the Comments below.

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2 thoughts on “Talking to your kids about workplace safety

  1. Roger Tickner

    Teaching kids about safety on and off the job is critical. My daughter is in her twenties and we started when she was 6, first attending SK. I remember her pointing out UNSAFE work on drives and vacation when she was just a toddler. We taught her about what to do if was choking. It saved her life. Kids are smart. Start early and never stop. I still voice my safety suggestions every time my daughter goes out. I get the look… But she’s worth it!!

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  2. Fiona Lewis

    The job market is tough for young adults and many of them are afraid to speak up once they do get a job, especially in the trades, where there is still a “suck it up” mentality. Employers need to find ways to reward young adults who do speak up and ask questions. It’s so important that this behaviour is positively and publicly reinforced.

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