Young workers: Construction
These are the most common injuries and hazards related to young workers in the construction industry, as shown by injury claims.
WorkSafe expects employers to have safety solutions in place to protect workers from the most common sources of injury.
Hazards and Solutions
- Hazard 1 Lifting pushing pulling and handling materials
- Arrange for bulky materials to be delivered to the final work location or use mechanical load shifting devices (eg cranes, material hoists, forklifts, hand trucks) to move materials around the site.
- Provide lifting points or handles for heavy or awkward loads.
- Cover any sharp edges.
- Order materials in smaller sizes (eg bags of 20kg instead of 40kg).
- Train young workers in the selection and use of any mechanical equipment and aids and safe handling methods (eg work is done between shoulder and mid-thigh height and with the elbows close to the body).
- Ensure employees are not exposed to repetitive work for long periods (eg by using job rotation, work variation) or work that requires a significant amount of high force.
- Provide appropriate personal protective equipment (eg gloves, long trousers, boots, knee protection pads) and ensure it is used.
- Hazard 2 Managing young workers
- Consider young workers' age as a specific risk factor when identifying hazards and controlling risks in the workplace.
- Develop a culture and process that encourage young workers to speak up about risks they observe.
- Provide OHS induction and ongoing safety training that ensures young workers understand their job, can perform it safely and competently, and can recognise and report hazards.
- Have procedures and training around workplace bullying, violence, harassment and skylarking.
- Provide ongoing supervision that takes into consideration the inexperience of young workers.
- Encourage young workers to ask questions and to seek more information if unsure.
- Have consultative processes that encourage young workers to put forward ideas.
- For young workers in the construction industry, please also refer to other industry specific construction hotspots.
- Hazard 3 Slips trips and falls
- Provide appropriate height access equipment, use the highest level of falls prevention measures (eg guard railing, physical barrier or perimeter scaffolding) as is reasonably practicable.
- Remove unwanted material and construction waste regularly from the site so it does not accumulate.
- Ensure construction materials, power leads, tools and equipment are handled and positioned carefully to avoid tripping hazards.
- Fit protective caps to the end of all thread droppers and exposed rebar.
- Ensure all working areas and access ways are clean, level, well-lit and in good condition.
- Physically point out hazards (eg moving equipment) where possible.
- Ensure employees wear appropriate safety boots (eg that fit well and are in good repair).
- Hazard 4 Using hand tools
- Provide appropriate mechanical aids and equipment (eg power tools that are lightweight, low vibration, noise restricted and fitted with clutches and safety guards) and ensure they are used properly and maintained in accordance with manufacturer specifications.
- Discuss any maintenance requirements and who has responsibility for this (make sure young workers know not to fix malfunctions themselves).
- Train young workers in the selection and use of hand tools and how to safely use them (eg avoid working in front of face and always work away from the body).
- Explain the safety features of each hand tool and provide clear instructions on how to use. Emphasise specific hazards and how to control them, how to know if the tool is faulty, and how this should be reported etc. Ask questions as you go to check understanding.
- Provide specific instructions on the safe use of nail guns (eg not to carry with the trigger depressed or use in bump fire mode in close proximity to other workers) and supervise young workers using them.
- Monitor the use of the nail guns to ensure safe systems of work are being maintained.
- Ensure young workers are supervised while using hand tools for the first time and until they can use safely.
- Provide appropriate personal protective equipment (eg hard hats, gloves that absorb impact energy, protection from sharp edges that is puncture resistant, hearing protection, respiratory protection, suitable eyewear) and show young workers how to use.
- Ensure employees wear appropriate personal protective clothing (eg long pants, boots).