Young workers can sometimes be at increased risk of workplace injury due to lack of experience, maturity and awareness.
They may also be:
- developing their skills, competencies and physical capabilities
- unaware of their rights and responsibilities
- unaware of the duties of others regarding workplace 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, and
- over-confident in their capabilities.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data show that in 2011 there were 54,458 women and 54,864 men aged between 15 and 24 years in South Australia’s workforce with young men predominately employed in the agriculture, mining, manufacturing and construction industries whilst young women’s employment was concentrated in the community, health, clerical and sales sectors1 .
SafeWork South Australia (SA) understands the importance of raising awareness of work health and safety issues affecting young workers by providing accessible information on workplace hazards, safety procedures and workplace rights.
Awareness raising strategies include:
- communicating information in a relevant and culturally appropriate way
- providing a safe environment for young workers to have a voice, and
- providing a positive learning environment that supports education, training and skill development.
In 2012-13 SafeWork SA undertook extensive consultation to develop a work health and safety strategy for young workers.
This consultation process identified the following improvement areas:
- health and wellbeing focussed on the physical and psychosocial work environment, fatigue management and work life balance
- engagement and participation– giving young workers a voice
- education, training and skills development–targeting young workers, employers and their advocates, and
- better connections - improving processes for employers to access information for young workers.
South Australia’s Work Health and Safety Youth Strategy 2014-2018, released in late 2013, encourages a coordinated and proactive approach to reducing workplace injuries, illness and deaths among young workers by supporting young workers and helping businesses. This integrated approach is informing SafeWork SA’s ongoing engagement with young workers.
For more information on work health and safety for young people in South Australia visit the SafeWork SA website.