New to the workplace, young people may lack experience, physical and psychological maturity. They may not take the risks they face seriously enough. Other factors that put young workers health and safety at greater risk include:
- Insufficient skills and training
- Not being aware of their rights and their employer’s duties
- Not having the confidence to speak out
- Employers not recognising the additional protection that young workers and apprentices need
Factors that Impact Young Workers Health and Safety
There are four areas that can impact positively or negatively on the health and safety of young workers.
- Mind and Body – Understanding the unique characteristics of a young person, the effect of peer influence, can help to explain why they are more likely to be exposed to risk in the workplace.
- Education and Learning – Developing capabilities to assess and manage risks through education, training and experience helps them remain safe at work.
- Work Design – Good work design involves ensuring that work tasks are designed to effectively manage risks and contribute to better health and wellbeing, job satisfaction and productivity.
- Workplace Culture – A positive workplace culture driven by leadership and effective communication is vital to engaging young workers in health and safety.
Key Tips for Employers
As an employer, you must ensure the work environment and the way workers carry out their work is safe and healthy. This includes protecting young workers from both physical and psychological hazards including:
- Ensuring a safe and healthy workplace
- Providing information, training, instruction and supervision
- Developing a positive workplace culture.
Consider the tasks you give to new and young workers, given their skills, abilities and experience. Before work begins, a person conducting a business or undertaking should identify the gaps in knowledge and assess their ability to work safely. Competency should be tested. It is not sufficient to accept a young worker’s assurance that he or she is experienced and competent.
Tips for Employees
As a young worker, think about why your health and safety is important, not just for your job but for enjoying your life outside of work as well. Statistics show that you are more likely to be injured in the first few months of a new job than if you’ve been doing it for a while. Your employer has a responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace. This means providing information, training, instruction and supervision to protect you from any risks to your health and safety.
You also have responsibilities under work health and safety legislation, including:
- Following all reasonable instructions
- Following workplace policies and procedures
- Not putting yourself or your workmates at risk
- Wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as required
- Reporting unsafe situations, injuries or near-misses to your immediate supervisor
It is important to actively participate in the way that health and safety is managed in your workplace. This means taking induction and training seriously, using the risk management process for your work tasks and asking for help before you start a task you’re not familiar or comfortable with.
With apprenticeships in all sectors on the increase, its essential that employers understand their duties when it comes to making provision for young workers.
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