UMM … is that safe? Helping young workers speak up

"Umm..." Ever get stuck for words when the boss asks you to do something that doesn’t feel quite right?


"UMM" – the tall, orange, furry star of WorkSafe's newest safety campaign targeting young workers – knows just how that feels.

Named for the expression that comes to mind when we're not sure what to say, UMM aims to teach young workers about their rights and encourage them to speak up about unsafe working conditions.

WorkSafe Executive Director Health and Safety Narelle Beer said UMM would speak directly to young workers about common but uncomfortable situations they might experience.

"Like many young workers UMM is eager to make a good impression, but can feel a little awkward about speaking up if something feels unsafe," Dr Beer said.

"No worker should ever feel unsafe. We've all experienced that 'umm' feeling before, so we want to empower young people to better understand their rights and feel confident speaking up when something isn't safe."

Created by young people, for young people, the social media campaign represents a new approach for WorkSafe to communicate with this young audience. UMM will target 15 to 19-year-olds who might have started their first part-time job, as well as 20 to 24-year-olds starting their first professional roles.

UMM builds on WorkSafe's ongoing 'Unsafe is Always Unacceptable' campaign, which successfully raised employer awareness about young workers' vulnerability.

Last year, WorkSafe accepted 2431 claims from workers aged 24 or younger.

Dr Beer said the UMM campaign should help young workers identify unsafe working environments by highlighting a diverse range of workplaces and situations where workers' safety is at risk.

"Safety is about more than just reducing the risks of physical injury," Dr Beer said.

"This campaign will show that unsafe work practices can happen in a range of industries and situations – from unreasonable workloads, to comments about appearance or being asked to complete tasks without proper training or guidance."

The campaign will run across social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram.

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