When you think of young people in the workplace, what do you think of? You could think of someone unskilled, young, fit, a ‘know it all’ or anything. These views may affect how employers treat and support young workers, however, this should not be the case. Did you know that Safe Work Australia revealed that a fifth of all work-related injuries experienced by Australian workers were by workers aged 25 years and under? This shows that young workers have a higher rate of work-related injuries than the rate of older workers.
This may make you wonder about young workers applying for workers’ compensation, however:
- almost two-thirds of young workers did not apply for workers’ compensation following their related injury,
- with half of these young workers feeling their injury was too minor to warrant lodging a claim.
- When looking at this data, one-quarter of all compensated injuries that young workers suffered involved the hand, fingers, and thumb, with young males at particular risk of these injuries.
Were you also aware that two-thirds of young worker traumatic injury fatalities involved a vehicle?
Young workers, in fact, can be vulnerable and at increased risk of workplace injury due to their lack of experience, maturity, and awareness. Young workers may also be:
- Still developing their skills, competencies, and physical capabilities
- Unaware of their rights and responsibilities
- Unaware of their responsibilities and the duties of their employer regarding work health and safety
- Unfamiliar with appropriate workplace behaviours
- Reluctant to make requests, ask questions or speak out about problems
- Overly keen to please and make a good impression
- Over confident of their capabilities
Tips for employers
Consider developing an induction program specifically for young workers, given that they may be starting their first job.
It is the employer’s, including labour-hire companies, responsibility to protect the safety and health of workers. Employers should pay particular attention to young workers. Risk assessments must be carried out before a young person starts work and safety measures should be put in place to protect them.
Employers should provide training and supervision for young workers. They should promote strong safety culture and involve young workers in safety matters.
Tips for workers
Consider preparing a pre-employment checklist. In preparing your checklist to determine what information you already have and what information you need to prepare for your new job.