New program takes workplace safety back to school

A new WorkSafe program is giving Victorian students the skills to stay safe in their first jobs.


The safety of young workers is an ongoing focus of WorkSafe activities, with more than 600 teens seriously injured at work last year.

WorkSafe 101 for high schools is a free, interactive program to help prepare students in Years 9 to 12 to enter the workforce safely.

Designed with input from teachers and career practitioners, the program includes e-learning modules, videos with examples from workplaces where young people are commonly employed and teacher-led activities that cover OHS basics, identifying hazards and the importance of speaking up.

WorkSafe Executive Director Health and Safety Narelle Beer said WorkSafe 101 is now available to all schools across Victoria, after 230 Year 9 Braybrook College students became the first to complete the program in December last year.

"This is the age when many young people are starting a part-time job or moving from school to the workforce – we owe it to young workers to give them the knowledge to work safely and the confidence to speak up when something doesn’t feel right," Dr Beer said.

"Our research shows young workers are more likely to accept unsafe work conditions and less likely to raise safety concerns or to report issues when they do occur, due to lack of knowledge, experience  and awareness about Occupational Health and Safety."

"Starting your first job is a huge milestone and a reason for young workers and their families to feel proud. Sadly, too many young workers soon find that celebration turns to tragedy."

Braybrook College careers teacher Rowena Archer said her students had embraced the program and seemed to enjoy the tasks, which she said are suited to students from Year 9 through to Year 12 and accessible for CALD students and students with disabilities.

"The topics were appropriate for what young workers need to know about and I really liked that bullying content was included, along with other mental health hazards," Ms Archer said.

"We hope that this will help empower students with the skills to be able to say 'that doesn’t look right' and to query what’s actually going on in the workplace."

Throughout 2022, WorkSafe accepted 615 claims from workers aged 19 or younger, including 264 from casual or part-time workers and 185 from apprentices.

The most common injuries among teen workers were cuts and amputations (207), traumatic tendon, muscle and ligament injuries (119), fractures (112), musculoskeletal injuries (88), burns (24), and mental injuries (23).

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