Starting 2018 Safely for Young Workers

As we launch into a fresh year, ready to stick to our resolutions, work harder and make 2018 our best year yet, we should take a minute to consider the young, fresh faces joining our workforce.

Tragically, research shows that young workers (those under 25) have a higher rate of injury than older workers in many industries and are highly represented in workers’ compensation claims.

This research shows that young workers are overrepresented in these figures, the accident and injury rates are shockingly high compared to older workers, and this is a persistent fact across many different industries. We believe it’s something that all businesses need to address and work to reduce.
How do we reduce young workers’ injuries though?

Some of this stems from a lack of knowledge and experience, as well as excitement, complacency or over-confidence. We believe one of the biggest factors is training and mentoring – ensuring these new workers are armed with everything they need to work safely.

We’ve found a few important things to consider and address when welcoming new, young workers into your business, these include:

  • Showing young workers how to approach their job safely, how to identify and respond to hazards and the procedure for reporting these;
  • Ensuring all new workers know how to use any machinery or equipment associated with their role safely, and understand the key dangers this equipment may pose;
  • Providing and showing how to correctly wear all PPE (personal protective equipment) they require and encourage use of this;
  • Openly discussing health and safety procedures with young workers, ensuring that they know who the health and safety officer is (if there is one) and encouraging a culture of speaking up about risks or concerns, without backlash;
  • Lastly, ensuring young workers know their workplace layout, immediate supervisor and co-workers – why not pair a new young worker with a more experienced colleague to ensure they have some direct, ongoing mentorship?

It’s also important to understand the key risks that are specific to your workplace or industry.

These are something to address in all training sessions and inductions – and addressing these key risks or dangers will hopefully help prevent injuries or accidents related to such dangers.

Considering the factors above can help keep your workplace safer for any young workers entering your workforce this year – and these points are generally pretty good advice for inducting most employees into a business.

But what about young workers themselves? What if you are one of the many young workers stepping into the first phase of your career – what do you need to know?

Firstly, while your employer has a duty of care to provide a safe workplace for you, you also have a responsibility to act safely yourself. It’s important that you take this seriously and are aware of your responsibilities as an employee.

Here are a few tips for new, young workers on what you should be considering ahead of your first day.

  • You should take all induction and training seriously, and ensure you ask any questions you may have to ensure you know the right way to approach your job;
  • Ensure you follow all reasonable instructions and workplace procedures;
  • Wear all the PPE associated with your role when required;
  • If you identify any risks in your workplace, you should report these, if you’re unsure who to tell, let your supervisor know and ask who the best person is to talk to in the future;
  • Ask questions when you are unsure. This is really important – not knowing how to do something could result in an accident or injury, so if you’re unsure, ask!

Should you suffer an injury at work, travelling for work or travelling to or from work, you will be entitled to benefits through WorkCover (or another self-insurer). Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to further compensation via a common law claim. You can read more about this here.

Aside from accidents or injuries, it’s important for all young workers to fully understand their rights (as well as their responsibilities) so that they know what an employer can reasonably ask or expect of them, as well as how many hours are reasonable to work, appropriate pay, etc.

You can find out more about your general rights as a worker here.

While there’s certainly a lot more to consider for both employers and employees when it comes to young workers joining a workplace, the tips above are a great starting point.

We hope that these help you prepare for the new faces alongside you this year – whether you are an employer or an employee!

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