Young workers vulnerable to workplace injuries

Young workers are particularly vulnerable to workplace injuries and employers should prioritise safety discussions and training to reduce their risk of injury.
News article published

Wednesday 21 Sep 2016

Industries and topics
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Retail
Click here to view more industries and topics
View more

That’s the message from WorkSafe Victoria which has released new statistics revealing 49 young people aged 15-24 were injured every week in 2015/16.

The statistics, which were from April 2015 to March 2016, also revealed:

  • Young workers in construction, retail, manufacturing and hospitality suffered the most injuries
  • Poor manual handling was the cause of most injuries
  • Hand, finger and back injuries were the most common type of injury.

The new statistics have been released to support a major social media campaign which features simulated CCTV footage of young workers in construction, retail, manufacturing and hospitality about to make potentially catastrophic workplace safety decisions.

Each of the CCTV films ends with a series of workplace safety messages about the rights and responsibilities of young workers. The campaign has so far attracted more than 310,079 views in its first few weeks.

WorkSafe’s Executive Director Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, said it was vital employers provided adequate training, support and information to young workers.

“While the overall number of injuries to young workers has continued to decline over the past six years, it’s absolutely critical that employers are providing appropriate training, information and advice,” Ms Williams said.

“Employers must take time to educate their young workers of the potential risks involved in completing certain tasks, and how to control or eliminate those risks. Teaching young workers how to properly operate machinery and equipment is also vital.”

Ms Williams said young workers were often oblivious to the long-term implications of a workplace injury.

“Injuries such as pulled muscles, twisted knees and bad backs caused by poor manual handling and repetitive lifting and stacking are common injuries among young people and the effects can last a lifetime,” Ms Williams said.

Ms Williams said the campaign was specifically aimed at attracting the attention of young workers through digital and social media channels.

“We understand that young people go online for their information, and often across several devices throughout the day,” she said. “Targeting this group through the channels that they use was an important part of this campaign as it’s critical that we reach them with this message – if something looks unsafe or you’re not sure it is absolutely OK to speak up.

“Our message to every employer is that it is your responsibility to ensure you are providing appropriate training and guidance to young workers.”

As part of the campaign, all Victorian employers who have had a young worker injured in their workplace over the past three years will shortly receive an education kit of posters and information cards to remind them of their duties towards young employees.

Injury claims by young workers (15-24 years)

From 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016

  • 2554 injury claims made by young workers
  • 1873 injury claims made in Melbourne (73%)
  • 670 injury claims made in regional Victoria (26%)
  • Construction sector had the highest number of claims at 534
  • Retail had the second highest number of claims at 416
  • Manufacturing had the third highest number of claims at 361
  • Poor manual handling caused the most injuries 779 (30.5%) followed by being hit by a moving object 743 (29%)

*Data is subject to change pending investigation outcomes