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Young worker safety is not as simple as… “She’ll be right, mate”

The safety of young workers should never be an afterthought. The consequences of not effectively managing the physical and psychological safety of young workers can be serious, even fatal. An afterthought comes far too late.

Workers aged between 15 and 25 are an integral part of Queensland’s workforce -and each year over 4,000 of them are seriously injured.

Young people often start new jobs at the beginning of the year, so it’s more timely than ever for employers and supervisors to understand the unique risk profile of young workers.

Each year over 4,000 young people are seriously injured at work. For young workers, safety is not as simple as….

“You’ll get the hang of it.”

They may be afraid to speak up. So, it’s not as simple as…

“Yeah, shout out if you’ve got any questions.”

They are less likely to know when something is unsafe. So, it’s not as simple as…

“You’ve done the training right?”

They want to do a good job and not be a bother. So, it’s not as simple as…

“It just needs to get done.”

They are easily influenced. So, it’s not as simple as…

“She’ll be right, mate.”

Keeping young workers safe isn’t simple.

But it should never be too hard.

Tell them. Show them. Watch them.

Young workers may not perceive when something becomes unsafe, and it is not effective to rely on them to ask questions or speak up about concerns they have. Employers should carefully consider if the tasks given to young workers are suitable based on their unique risk profile.

Employers and supervisors are encouraged to consider the skills, abilities and experience of young people and use the ‘tell them, show them, watch them’ approach when giving them task-specific inductions.

Step 1: Tell them

Provide a clear and detailed explanation of the task to the young worker, paying particular attention to critical elements and making the young worker aware of documented procedures.

Step 2: Show them

Demonstrate the task while the young worker watches, explain key points, and ask the young worker questions to check for understanding at particular intervals.

Step 3: Watch them

Review the young worker perform the task and provide clear and constructive feedback to ensure they are performing the task correctly and safely.

Before they start work, employers must consider a young person’s knowledge, assess their ability to work safely, and test their competency. It is not sufficient to accept a young worker's assurance that they are experienced and competent.

Employers are responsible for determining what level of training is appropriate for the tasks. For training that occurs outside the workplace, supervisors should support the young worker by taking an interest in their training, assisting with training logs, and finding ways for them to apply new skills.

Learn more about unique risk profiles and how to implement the Young workers safety toolkit (PDF, 4.59 MB) in your workplace.

Further information

For more information, visit Young workers webpage.