Activity Image
Safety

Workplace safety

Youth will learn to stay safe in the workplace.

  • Grades 10-12
  • Class Discussion
  • 1.3 hours

Overview

Youth ages 15-25 are especially at risk for workplace accidents. Explore workplace scenarios to inspire critical thinking around electrical safety, preparedness, and how to speak up if a situation is potentially unsafe.

What you'll need

Instructions

Introduction to electricity and workplace safety

  1. Start with a discussion about electricity, how it moves through power lines, and how to stay safe around electricity outdoors. Ask students:
    • What is the electricity doing when live powerlines touch the ground? When they touch a tree? A car? Have a discussion about electric currents including that if a ladder touches a power line and you touch the ladder, the current will move through you to get to the ground, which is life threatening. 
    • What are safety precautions to take when coming across a downed power line? Introduce students to Down. Danger. Dial 911, and discuss that if there is a downed power line, it is dangerous and you need to move away by shuffling your feet, to a distance of at least 10 metres and dial 911. It is important to shuffle as the voltage from the electrical current decreases in concentric rings as you move away from the source. If you shuffle the voltage difference will not be able to move up one leg and down the other.
    • What are safety precautions to take when working around power lines? Consider situations like not leaning ladders on power lines, keeping a safe distance of 3 metres away from power lines, and investigating where the overhead and underground power lines are before beginning work. It’s important to know if and where underground power lines are before digging. Also discuss safety equipment and appropriate clothing. 
    • Why are power lines located high on poles and out of reach? The power lines are not insulated and there are thousands of volts travelling through these live power lines. This is why it’s important to stay at least three metres away from power lines.
  2. Watch this video about staying safe when working around power lines.
  3. Continue with a discussion about workplace safety and how working around power lines can be dangerous, but there are many other workplace safety concerns around electricity in jobs like landscaping, construction, retail, and the service industry. Share details about youth workplace safety and invite discussion and inquiry:
    • According to WorkSafeBC, young people aged 15-25 are particularly at risk for workplace accidents. Why? Some reasons can include inexperience, lack of training, orientation and supervision, lack of understanding of their workplace, lack of preparation for the workplace, exposure to more dangerous jobs, and hesitancy to ask questions.
    • As a worker we have rights. Ask students to share what they think their rights in a workplace are. Worker rights include being provided with information, instruction and training about safety and recognizing hazards, having appropriate supervision, equipment, safety gear and the right to refuse to perform unsafe work.
    • As a worker we also have responsibilities. Ask students to share what they think their responsibilities are. Worker responsibilities include asking for instruction if unsure how to perform a task safely, using all safety gear and protective clothing when required, following safe work procedures, immediately correct or report unsafe conditions, and report any physical or mental conditions that may make someone unable to work safely.
    • Invite students to share a workplace situation where they have felt unsafe. What did you do? Do you think you should/could have done anything differently? What skills/tools/information would help you to speak up in a dangerous situation? 


Workplace scenarios

  1. In pairs, provide students with the “Workplace safety” student handout.
  2. First, ask students to go to the WorkSafeBC interactive photo activity and identify safety hazards and dangerous work habits to avoid. 
  3. Second, ask students to consider the listed workplace safety scenarios, discuss and record how to respond, be responsible and stay safe. Inquiry questions include: consider what could you do? are you concerned you might lose your job if you speak up? who would you go to for help? how could you phrase your concerns so you can be heard? what information/resources could you to help you speak up? As they consider how to handle these situations have students review the listed resources to help.
  4. Each scenario provides an opportunity to practice presenting their concerns, staying safe, and accessing necessary safety tools.
  5. Debrief the activity and ask students what in each of those scenarios they would find easy to address and what they would find challenging, and discuss why.

Summer jobs

  1. Provide each student with the “Summer job” student handout. 
  2. This activity provides students with an opportunity to research a summer job they are interested in and create a personal safety plan. 
  3. In their plans, students will identify a job of interest, necessary safety equipment/gear required, necessary safety training expected, potential injuries, potential electrical safety concerns, a plan for communicating safety concerns and what might prevent them from speaking up and communicating their concerns.

Careers with BC Hydro

  1. Share one or more videos about jobs with BC Hydro:
  2. Discuss advantages and disadvantages of these jobs and identify safety concerns they might have if working in those kinds of positions.

Additional Information

  • Assess students’ ability to share ideas and listen to each other regarding safety when working around power lines and electricity
  • Assess the students’ ability to identify and communicate hazards in the workplace to protect themselves and others
  • Assess students’ participation and collaboration during the workplace scenarios activity

Extension

  • Create a media post on safety at the workplace. The media post could include information of the types of accidents that could occur, safety precautions and equipment, and protocol if an accident does occur. 
  • Pull up the BC Hydro Power Smart for Schools Working in the community activity quiz to further explore safety. 

Electrical safety, electricity, and powerlines

Electricity always seeks a path to ground and it travels along power lines because they are

  • Connected to the power system and made of conductive metals
  • Attached to insulators to prevent the electricity from reaching the ground 

When something like a kite, a tree, or a ladder makes contact with a live power line, it may create a new path to ground and electricity may flow. For example, if a kite touches a power line, the electrical current could travel through the kite – and the person holding the string - to reach the ground. We call this hazard “touch potential” because you create a path to ground by touching something. Birds are safe when they are standing on a power line as long as they are not creating a path to ground.

When the electricity flows to ground it will energize the ground. The place where the current touches the ground is the highest voltage and a gradient is established as the voltage decreases over distance. We call this hazard “step potential” because a person could be exposed to thousands of volts with each step as they walk across the gradient. Electricity can travel up one leg and down the other due to the difference in voltage. By keeping your legs together and shuffling your feet, heel to toe, you minimize the amount of the gradient that you are crossing with each footstep. The gradient could reach 10 metres, that’s why we tell people to shuffle 10 metres – about the length of a big yellow school bus – away from a downed line.

Keep in mind that power lines are never insulated and never safe to touch.

Workplace safety

For more information and resources on workplace safety for young and new workers:

BC Hydro youth employment resources to share with your students:

Grade 10, 11, 12 Career-Life Education CLE - Content

Career-Life Development
  • Appropriate workplace behaviour and workplace safety

Grade 10, 11, 12 Career-Life Education CLE - Curricular competencies

Experience
  • Demonstrate inclusive, respectful, and safe interactions in diverse career-life environments


Grade 10, 11, 12 Career-Life Connections CLC - Content

Personal career-life development
  • Rights and regulations in the workplace, including safety

Grade 10, 11, 12 Career-Life Connections CLC - Curricular competencies

Examine
  • Explore and evaluate personal strategies, including social, physical, and financial, to maintain well-being
Experience
  • Explore possibilities for preferred personal and education/employment futures, using creative and innovative thinking


Grade 10 Physical and Health Education - Content

  • Basic principles for responding to emergencies
  • Strategies to protect themselves and others from potential abuse, exploitation, and harm in a variety of settings

Grade 10 Physical and Health Education - Curricular competencies

Social and community health
  • Propose strategies for avoiding and responding to potentially unsafe, abusive, or exploitative situations

Grade 11 & 12 Active Living - Content

Safety
  • Physical activity safety and etiquette
  • Injury prevention and management

Grade 11 & 12 Active Living - Curricular Competencies

Safety
  • Explain how proper technique and use of equipment reduces the chance of injury 
  • Demonstrate safe and appropriate participation in physical activities


Grade 11 Science for Citizens - Content

  • Workplace safety

Grade 11 Science for Citizens - Curricular competencies

Evaluating
  • Assess risks in the context of personal safety and social responsibility
Applying and innovating
  • Contribute to care for self, others, community, and world through individual or collaborative approaches

Join the Power Smart for Schools community to access:

  • Email newsletter to keep you up-to-date
  • Special events and contests with great prizes
  • Premium, time-limited education resources
  • Dashboard to organize and save your favourite activities and lessons
Sign up