Skip to content

Do the right thing with young workers starting their first jobs

Employers taking on young workers starting their first job this holiday season should ensure they are aware of COVID-19 work health and safety measures, as well as ensuring young workers are properly trained and supervised in their new roles.

Young workers are enthusiastic, but may lack experience and expertise in the workplace and particularly if it is their first job after leaving school or university.

Young people have some of the highest injury rates of any workplace group and need more supervision than experienced workers. It’s important employers and supervisors are patient and take the right time to exercise their duty of care to train and supervise employees in the undertaking of proper safety procedures.

Recently, there has been two fatalities involving young workers. A 16-year-old was working on an asphalt driveway when struck by a powered mobile plant.

In another fatal incident, also the subject of a Workplace Health and Safety Queensland investigation, a 21-year-old mechanical trade assistant was in a storage room using an angle grinder to cut a drum when it exploded. This resulted in a fireball effect causing extensive burns.

Young workers can be easily distracted and often don't see the consequences before it’s too late.

Because of their inexperience, young workers need to be brought up to scratch on the following risk management strategies:

  • how to identify and manage psychosocial hazards like bullying, harassment, or work-related violence and aggression
  • communication and consultation processes used at the workplace
  • requirements for training, supervision and reporting incidents in the workplace.

Employers should consider the tasks they give to new and young workers, considering their skills, abilities and experience levels. Before a young person begins work, a person conducting a business or overseeing the work to be undertaken should identify the gaps in the worker's knowledge and assess their ability to work safely. Competency should be tested. It is not sufficient to accept a young worker's assurance that they are experienced and competent.

Young workers have responsibilities under work health and safety legislation, including following all reasonable instructions and workplace policies and procedures, not putting themselves or their workmates at risk, and wearing personal protective equipment as required.

It is important they actively participate in the way that work health and safety is managed in your workplace. This means taking induction and training seriously.

More information

For advice on young worker safety, including health and safety tips for workers and supervisors, and information on protective gear, visit