WCB and ICBC research confirms similar causes lead to youth injuries

RICHMOND, BC, Jan. 21 – The Workers’ Compensation Board of B.C.
(WCB) and the Insurance Corporation of B.C. (ICBC) today announced the results of a joint
Youth Risk Taking research study, confirming similarities in the causes leading to young
worker and young driver injuries and fatalities.

The study was announced at the 2nd Annual Safety
Connections 2002 Conference, which brought together industry and safety professionals to
focus on solutions to young worker health and safety, and to address key safety- related
initiatives and issues specific to the farming, ranching and forestry industries in B.C.

In 2000, the injury rate for males aged 15 to 24 in B.C.
was 6.4 per 100 person-years of employment compared to the provincial average of 3.9. Six
young men lost their lives in workplace accidents during the year, four of them in motor
vehicle accidents while working.

The Youth Risk Taking research study is the first-ever
between WCB and ICBC, and the first in Canada using scientific evidence to explore why
youth take risks while working or driving. Despite an improving trend among young worker
and driver injury reductions, WCB and ICBC report that young males in B.C. are at higher
risk of injury compared to all other age groups and gender of workers and drivers.

The study confirmed that while there is no single cause for either, a number of
personality characteristics are shared by both young male workers and young male drivers with claims.

In addition to young males who take deliberate risks either
on the job or on the road, the study revealed there is also a group of young male workers
and drivers who are at risk because they tend to have more challenges to begin with. By
having more on their minds, they are less able or willing to put their minds to the task
of protecting themselves from hazards.

The report concludes that compared to the accident-free
group, the at-risk individuals reported experiencing more psychological distress and
apprehension, and feeling less assertive. In addition, despite experiencing elevated
levels of anger and frustration, they also tended to exert considerable effort keeping
these emotions bottled up inside.

Dr. John Vavrik, Research Psychologist, ICBC said,
“not surprisingly, the group reported more frequently that their thoughts wander, and
that they feel distracted and forgetful while driving or working. The research results
suggest therefore, that many young individuals tend to be preoccupied with their inner
thoughts and feelings at the expense of monitoring, anticipating, and confronting road and
workplace hazards.”

“Furthermore, because of their diminished self-esteem
and assertiveness they may also be less willing to question poor safety practices and to
protect themselves and others from potential harm,” said Vavrik.

WCB Prevention Vice President, Roberta Ellis added that
another key finding of the study reveals that many young worker injuries that should be
reported are, in fact, going unreported to the WCB. Another significant finding was that
young workers with claims reported feeling rushed on the job.

“These findings indicate that young worker prevention
interventions need to consider aspects of the workplace and job, and not just behaviors of
the individual,” said Ellis. “For example, employers need to be made aware of
how work-pace and other factors required in jobs typically held by young workers affect
the potential for workplace incidents. They need to consider whether there are adequate
levels of staff and safeguards in place that make the pace of work reasonable for young workers.”

Ellis emphasized that the creation and maintenance of safe
and healthy workplaces that also pay attention to the unique characteristics of young
workers has the long-term potential to impact the injury rate, not only for young male
workers, but also for workers of all ages and gender.

Vavrik pointed out that this group of young males, who tend
to passively accept risk rather than actively seek risk-taking activities, represent one
of several types of youth risk takers. The other most prominent group includes young males
who take deliberate risks to demonstrate their competence, enhance their image, or satisfy
their need for an intense sensory experience.

This study adds to the growing body of research, which
demonstrates that there are many common paths to young driver and worker injuries and
therefore, there is a need for many prevention interventions.

WCB and ICBC will use these research findings to help
develop programs that balance the needs and preferences of different high-risk youth
groups and the people involved with young workers and drivers. They plan to work together
on other youth prevention activities since the research confirmed that young driver and
young worker safety issues are related.

Serving nearly two million workers and about 167,000
employers, the Workers’ Compensation Board is a statutory agency governed by a Panel of
Administrators. The WCB is committed to a safe and health workplace and to providing
return-to-work rehabilitation and fair compensation to workers injured and suffering
occupational disease as a result of their employment.

To receive a complete information kit, please contact Leigh
Hayat at 604 232-5823, or toll free at 1 888 621-7233. All information is also posted on