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Young workers at increased risk of injury

24 April 2019

Sunday 28 April marks World Day for Safety and Health at Work and Workers' Memorial Day. This combined day highlights health and safety in the workplace and remembers those who have died from work-related illness or injury.

This year, we look into the health and safety of young workers. While the health and safety of all workers is paramount, young workers are at increased risk of a workplace injury due to lack of experience and awareness of risks.

In South Australia 2,104 workers aged 15 to 24 were injured while at work and received income or medical support (FY 2017-18).

Young worker injuries

The top 5 types of young worker injuries are:

Type of injury Number of injuries (FY 2017-18)
Laceration or wound 787
Soft tissue 675
Contusion, bruising and superficial crushing 150
Fracture 136
Foreign body on external eye, in ear or nose 117
In FY2018, 2,104 young workers aged 15-24 were injured at work, making up 16% of all worker injuries. The most common types of young worker injuries were laceration or wound, ligament or tendon injury, and fracture.

Young workers often can’t and don’t perceive when a situation becomes unsafe and may not always ask questions or speak up when they feel unsafe, especially if they are a newly employed trainee or apprentice. Young workers can also be more at risk in the workplace due to the effect of peer influence and it’s important for employers to be aware of this.

What can you do to keep your young workers safe?

The supervisor or manager of a young worker has the greatest influence on their attitude to work safely, so it’s important to have the right person managing young workers. It’s an employer’s responsibility to make sure the workplace is safe and healthy and to protect young workers from physical and psychological hazards. Not all young workers will have the appropriate life skills and knowledge, so also consider what you task them with.

Tips for keeping young workers safe:

  • provide a safe and healthy workplace
  • provide personal protective equipment
  • provide an effective induction
  • identify safety gaps in the worker’s knowledge
  • provide the right information, training and supervision
  • provide continuous mentoring
  • communicate effectively and be sure they have understood their instructions
  • develop a positive workplace culture where they feel comfortable to speak up and ask questions.

We have a range of tools available on our young workers page to help employers, workers, and parents keep young workers safe at work.