RRC grads feel safe at work placements

Courtney Bannatyne, CONTRIBUTOR
Students in Red River College’s culinary arts program take WHMIS training, Manitoba food handlers training and first aid training before they go on work placements. THE PROJECTOR/ Courtney Bannatyne

Students in Red River College’s culinary arts program take WHMIS training, Manitoba food handlers training and first aid training before they go on work placements. THE PROJECTOR/ Courtney Bannatyne

Despite a work placement attack earlier this year, some Red River College grads say they think the college does enough to ensure students’ safety.

“I think they over prepared me for my work placements,” said Alex Wong, 24.

Wong graduated from RRC’s culinary arts program in 2014. He did one placement at Larters at St. Andrews Golf & Country Club and one placement in Lyon, France.

Wong said students had to do Manitoba food handling training, WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) training and first aid training before going on placements.

On his first placement at Larters, Wong said he burned himself while making Mexican doughnuts in a deep fryer.

“They exploded in the deep fryer, and the oil splashed onto my arms,” Wong said. “I had some pretty bad blisters on them for a while.”

He said he didn’t tell the college about his injury. His chef bandaged him up and together they treated his blisters using first aid procedures.

“It was definitely an accident,” he said. “I didn’t feel like I was undertrained for that, and we knew what to do when it came to first aid. It was a random occurrence.”

Adam Taplin, president of the RRC Students’ Association, said the college is working on a policy to be more prepared for dangerous work placement situations because of an incident in May. Jackie Healey, who was an RRC child and youth care student, was on work placement when she says two youth attacked her.

“Up to this point, we’ve never really had any issues with the work placement program,” Taplin said. “Any place you work is going to have its issues, but I think the college does a really great job typically, even before the incident, of picking good-quality places that are concerned about our students and their safety.”

Alexis Johnston, 24, graduated in 2016 from RRC’s nursing baccalaureate program. She did her practicum at the Health Sciences Centre on the medicine rotation and said she was well prepared for it.

Nursing students had clinical placements throughout the program, WHMIS training and a nonviolence crisis intervention course where students learned how to intervene in violent situations without being violent, said Johnston.

“I find that if there is something dangerous or something we need to be prepared for, prior to going to the placement, I think that we’re usually taught it,” Johnston said.

She didn’t feel unsafe at her practicum, Johnston said, because it was a good environment.

“Everyone was really helpful, and they made you feel part of a team,” she said. “If anything were to have happened, I definitely would have felt comfortable talking to someone about it or would have felt supported.”

She said although she felt prepared, she would have liked to take another nonviolence crisis intervention course before her practicum started. She said she took it in the first semester of her program.

“I don’t really remember a ton of it,” Johnston said. “I think we are expected to take it again at some point, but we do have to pay for it.”

Megan Havens, the public relations coordinator at RRC, wrote in an email that dangerous incidents are extremely rare, but there are provisions in place if a student feels unsafe.

“The practicum agreements have provisions that allow for the workplace or the college to end a placement that either party views as unsatisfactory,” Havens wrote. “A student also has the ability to make a request to the college to end a placement early, and the college would consider it.”

Havens said if something were to happen on a placement, the college, the student and the workplace would work together to make sure the student feels comfortable. If the student does not feel comfortable, then the college will find an alternate placement for him or her, she said.

Havens added the college has a comprehensive checklist to assess the safety of placement sites and will be revamping it starting in November.