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Severe workplace injury leads man on crusade to protect others

Young workers make up a significant portion of the workforce. Unfortunately, they are just as prone to accidents as any other workers, and maybe more so due to their relative lack of experience in their chosen fields. For one young man in the Vancouver area, a normal part of his work routine led to a nearly fatal workplace injury, and he is now on a campaign to warn other young workers about the importance of workplace safety. 

On June 28, 2002, a 19-year-old restaurant worker in Langley was carrying a large pot of hot cooking oil when he slipped and fell. The floor was wet, having been recently mopped by a co-worker. The two were attempting to finish their closing duties early, allegedly at the behest of their employer.

The 375-degree Fahrenheit oil splashed over the young man's face and body, narrowly missing his eyes, mouth, and nose. His co-worker hosed him with cold water to help stop the burning. He suffered severe burns to 43 per cent of his body, and was pronounced dead while in the hospital for over a minute. He was revived and spent 29 days in intensive care.

His former employer was fined and directed to amend his procedures. The young man, now 33 years old, spends his time teaching others about workplace safety, including how to recognize an unsafe situation. According to statistics provided by WorkSafeBC, approximately 6,900 young workers were injured while on the job in British Columbia in 2015.

Safety at work should be a concern for all employees, regardless of age, and learning to recognize and avoid unsafe situations is an important part of on-the-job training. While one can hope to minimize the risk of a workplace injury, the reality is they still occur from time to time. Any person who has been hurt at work in the Vancouver area should consider consulting with a labour and employment law firm that's close to home.

Source: langleyadvance.com, "Young man scalded in the workplace urges teens to think about safety", Tom Zytaruk, Oct. 6, 2016

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