The Victorian Government is urging employers to take care of its youngest workers, following a recent spate of workplace injury claims for 15-24-year-olds.
Young workers make up a substantial proportion of the workforce. However, young workers are particularly vulnerable to being injured at work because they have not yet had time to develop knowledge, skills and experience.
The number of young workers injured seriously enough to make a WorkSafe compensation claim rose to 2472 last financial year. This is 130 more than the previous financial year.
Tragically, seven young people lost their lives as the result of workplace incidents over the last 18-months, including a 19-year-old man who died after he was electrocuted installing an air-conditioner.
“These are sons and daughters, friends and workmates – this loss has an unbelievable impact on families and the wider community,” commented Minister for Workplace Safety, Jill Hennessy.
“Everyone has a part to play to make sure young workers are given the training and supervision they need to feel safe and be safe at work.”
All employers have a responsibility to properly train and supervise young workers in health and safety, to make sure they have understood their training and can complete tasks safely.
Employers across the nation should encourage young workers to speak up when they are unsure of how to safely complete a task, and if they identify any potential hazards.
Employers – especially those in potentially hazardous industries such as building and construction – should also educate young workers about the potential risks involved in completing certain tasks and how to control or eliminate those risks. Safety should be a key part of the induction process for new workers.
WorkSafe Victoria’s construction team runs occupational health and safety sessions with first-year apprentices at TAFEs across Victoria – the program reaches more than 7000 apprentices every year.
Last Wednesday WorkSafe Victoria Chief of Business Operations, Marnie Williams, joined the Workplace Safety Minister at Holmesglen’s Futuretech campus to meet with apprentices studying a Certificate III in Electrotechnology.
“WorkSafe Victoria actively works with TAFEs to make sure apprentices know about occupational health and safety so they can come home safe at the end of the day,” Ms Williams said at the event.
“Younger workers are at an increased risk of injury. We need to make sure employers, employees and training providers all play their part to keep people safe.”
WorkSafe is also in the process of developing a new occupational health and safety program for secondary schools and TAFEs, in order to reach those who recently have or are about to start work.