Young workers: Manufacturing
These are the most common injuries and hazards related to young workers in the manufacturing 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 Heavy lifting pushing pulling bending and kneeling
- Provide appropriate mechanical aids and equipment (eg forklifts, trolleys, vacuum lifters, hoists, height adjustable palletising equipment) and ensure they are used properly and maintained in accordance with manufacturer specifications.
- Design work to ensure it is done between shoulder and waist height to keep people working in an upright postures as much as possible. Achieve this by raising, lowering or moving either the worker or the work.
- 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, work upright where possible).
- Ensure employees are not exposed to repetitive work for long periods (eg by using job rotation, work variation, providing sit-stand stools and anti-fatigue mats) or work that requires a significant amount of high force.
- 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 manufacturing industry, please also refer to other industry specific manufacturing Hotspots.
- Hazard 3 Slips trips and falls
- Install gantries and walkways with barriers on or around large or high machines.
- Fit self-closing access gates to elevated work platforms to reduce the risk of falling from machinery or equipment.
- Remove unwanted material and waste regularly from work site so it does not accumulate.
- Ensure all working areas and access ways are clean, level, well-lit and in good condition.
- Ensure employees wear appropriate safety boots (eg that fit well and are in good repair).
- Ensure spills are cleaned up immediately.
- Hazard 4 Using hand tools
- Provide appropriate tools and machinery (eg ergonomically designed handheld power tools that are lightweight, low vibration, noise restricted and fitted with over-torque clutches) and ensure they are used properly and maintained in accordance with manufacturer specifications
- 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 safety features of each hand tool and provide clear instructions on how to use. Emphasise specific hazards, 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.
- Explain maintenance requirements, responsibilities and procedures (ensure that young workers know they shouldn't fix any malfunctions).
- Ensure young workers using hand tools are supervised while using hand tools for the first time and as required.
- Provide appropriate personal protective equipment and clothing (eg gloves, safety footwear, goggles) and show workers how to safely wear/use.
- Hazard 5 Using machinery and equipment
- Provide appropriate guarding and ensure it is maintained in accordance with manufacturer specifications (eg circular saws have spring loaded moveable blade guards).
- Ensure router benches and moulders are designed so guards are interlocked to the plant and the cutters can't operate (including during run-down) when the guard isn't in place. Physical barrier guards are necessary in almost all cases.
- Ensure emergency stops are within reach of operators of moving rollers, belts and conveyers.
- Ensure machinery has completely stopped and can't be unintentionally re-energized during repair, unblocking, maintenance, or cleaning.
- Train young workers how to use equipment and supervise young workers when working directly with or near machinery or blades.
- Develop and implement appropriate safe work procedures (eg don't use gloves where there's a risk they will catch on moving machinery).
- 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 ensure it is worn.
- Ensure employees wear suitable clothing (eg overalls, long trousers, long sleeve shirt, safety boots).
- Ensure employees are not exposed to noise that exceeds the exposure standard.