Health and safety information for young workers

Your health and safety rights and responsibilities, and what you can do if you’re concerned about safety in your workplace.

Your rights and responsibilities in the workplace

Young Worker -- Bakery TV Commercial

If you are a young worker aged 15-24, it is important to know your health and safety rights and obligations.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act), you have the right to be safe at work and have access to a safe and healthy workplace.

Young workers have injury rates out of proportion with other worker age groups. It is important to recognise this and feel empowered to speak up so that you return home safely.

As an employee your legal responsibilities include:

  • taking reasonable care for your own health and safety in the workplace, and for the health and safety of others who may be affected by what you do or don’t do
    • co-operating with your employer about any action they take to comply with OHS Act or OHS Regulations 2017
      • not intentionally or recklessly interfering with or misusing anything provided at the workplace to support health, safety and welfare

        Your employer's responsibilities

        Your employer has specific responsibilities under the OHS Act to protect your health and safety. Some of these responsibilities are to:

        • provide a safe working environment without risks to health, so far as is reasonably practicable
          • give you the necessary information, instruction, training and supervision so you can do your work safely
            • consult you on OHS matters, such as hazards or risks to health and safety in the workplace

              For more about employee and employer responsibilities:

              Speaking up

              It’s ok to say no to unsafe work. If you notice a safety hazard in your workplace or are concerned, you should speak up and tell your employer or health and safety representative (HSR). You have the right to a safe and healthy workplace.

              If a situation is immediately dangerous or a medical emergency, call 000 straight away.

              You can always contact WorkSafe

              If you are still concerned after raising the issue with your employer or HSR, you can always contact WorkSafe and even report the matter anonymously.

              Mental health is just as important as physical safety

              Health and safety is not just limited to physical harm or injuries. Work is a large part of our daily lives, and can have an effect on our mental health. An employer's duty to provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to health so far as is reasonably practicable includes both physical and mental health.

              This video shows how work can affect mental health:

              Psychological health - Is the work safe? Do I feel safe?

              Workplace bullying

              Workplace bullying is repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed at an employee or group of employees that creates a risk to health and safety. It is a serious risk and can occur in any workplace. If you or someone you know is being bullied in the workplace, there is support available.

              Occupational violence and aggression

              Occupational violence is any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work. Employers should ensure appropriate response measures are in place to minimise risks of occupational violence. If occupational violence or aggression happens to you, notify your supervisor, employer or HSR.

              Work-related gendered violence

              Work-related gendered violence is any behaviour, directed at any person, or that affects a person because of their sex, gender or sexual orientation, or because they do not adhere to socially prescribed gender roles, that creates a risk to health and safety. If you experience work-related gendered violence there are things you can do to - for example, you can report unwanted behaviour to your employer. You can also get confidential help from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

              Other agencies that may be able to help