IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail

Orientation and training upon hiring for students working during the school year


Combining work and study has become much more common over the last 30 years in Québec. Many businesses, particularly in the services industry, rely on students to supply part of their labour requirements. Although students gain their first work experience through these jobs, they are also exposed, early in their career, to occupational hazards that can affect their health and safety. The orientation and integration conditions of new workers are increasingly recognized as a relevant prevention target.

Based on interviews of 70 students, aged 19 to 21 and working part-time during the school year, and as part a larger research project on work/ study combination and occupational health and safety (OHS) (Laberge et al., 2011), this study provides a descriptive overview of the orientation and training received by new student hires.

Although most of the participants held jobs in economic sectors typically attracting young workers, most had no job-related experience when hired. These jobs are varied and found in both small and large businesses or in franchises. Despite this diversity, the participants’ comments indicate a fairly minimal orientation procedure in almost every case. Training for new hires is provided for most jobs, however, although it varies in scope and sometimes lasts only a few minutes. It mainly consists of hands-on training at the work station. The use of tools such as videos, DVDs, or online training modules remains marginal. It is essentially through interaction with the supervisor and colleagues, i.e. socialization, that a new worker learns the basics of prevention.

The OHS awareness and training activities provided in academic programs or by companies help expand the students’ store of OHS knowledge, which they will carry from one job to another. Often enough, however, new hires receive no information on risks and safety rules. Among the staff, the supervisor is most often identified as the person who passes on this kind of information. Colleagues provide many tips, but mainly on handling, safe use of machinery and equipment and how to keep the work environment safe.

Two significant findings arise from this study. First, it is important to continue developing OHS information and awareness tools, and especially strategies to make them better known to employers likely to hire students. Secondly, it should be kept in mind that these tools cannot replace the key role played by supervisors and colleagues in transmitting preventive knowledge. Conditions must be put in place to support this knowledge transmission.

Additional Information

Category: Research Report
  • Élise Ledoux
  • Luc Laberge
  • Chloé Thuilier
Research Project: 0099-5520
Online since: March 11, 2015
Format: Text