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Supervising Young Workers

Effective Supervision

Effective supervision means closely monitoring employees’ work practices and conditions, correcting any unsafe work habits, and being available for questions.

Young workers should be closely and competently supervised until they can demonstrate that they can work safely.

Supervisors can often be young workers themselves, so it is important that employers provide these supervisors with ongoing support and advice in the same manner they would for all young workers. 

Supervisors need to have a good understanding of OHS in their workplace, and provide ongoing responsible and mature supervision. Refresher training should be provided to supervisors on a regular basis.

It is important for supervisors to:

  • understand the risks and control measures connected with the tasks young workers are doing
  • establish and maintain open lines of communication and build positive working relationships with young workers
  • be available to answer questions and provide advice
  • emphasise the importance of reporting OHS concerns promptly, so that immediate action can be taken to resolve the issue
  • explain OHS policies and procedures and ensure that all employees, including young workers, follow them. If they are not followed, find out why and take swift action to correct it.
  • lead by example – always reinforce health and safety on the job and use required personal protective equipment

Consulting with young workers

Talk about health and safety with young workers and listen and respond positively to any concerns they raise. While they may not be as experienced, young workers often have good questions, fresh eyes and new ideas to put forward.

Employers are responsible for sharing health and safety information with all employees, including young workers. Regular proactive consultation can help identify issues in the workplace, and build a strong commitment to health and safety by including all views in the decision-making process.

Here are some tips for how to effectively include young workers in consultation:

  • Ensure that young workers know how to report unsafe conditions or hazards in the workplace, and that they feel comfortable doing so.
  • Encourage young workers to share workplace health and safety information, and discuss issues by participating in team or toolbox meetings, and talking with their immediate supervisor and/or HSR.
  • Understand the hazards and risks in your workplace that are particular to young workers and what control measures are in place.
  • Discuss risks to young workers and their specific needs in the workplace with HSRs, the health and safety committee and other employees.
  • Encourage young workers to speak up and to report any workplace hazards, injury or illness.