Young workers: information for employers

Good leadership helps protect young workers from illness and injury.

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Young workers need more support

Young workers bring a range of benefits to workplaces, including:

  • innovation and creativity
  • new skills and optimism
  • future talent and protection against skill gaps

However, young workers are more likely to be injured because they are often new to a job and may be inexperienced. They have the highest likelihood of injury occurring within the first 6 months of starting a new job.

Young workers are a diverse group of individuals who will react and behave differently in different situations. They often look to peers for reassurance and are less likely to ask questions for fear of consequences.

Understanding the unique risks of young workers is important to helping them stay safe at work.

Young worker getting instruction on the job
Young workers may require additional instruction and training because they are newer to the workforce.

Creating a culture that protects young workers

When young workers know that health and safety is important in the workplace, they are more likely to follow safety procedures, raise issues and promote a culture that keeps everyone safe. Young workers look to leaders and co-workers to better understand workplace health and safety culture.

Safety culture is a collection of values, beliefs and perceptions that employees share regarding occupational health and safety (OHS) in the workplace.

A safety culture which emphasises the importance of improving safety, mitigating risk and having open communication about hazards is important to support young workers in the workplace.

A positive safety culture creates an environment where workers are likely to feel safe, increase productivity and reduce staff turnover.

Safety culture starts with leadership that values, commits and models safe behaviours. Leaders can do this by:

  • identifying and controlling or removing hazards and potential hazards before they become a risk to physical or psychosocial health at work and finding safer ways to work
  • demonstrating a commitment to safety by complying with OHS obligations
  • prioritising the handling of safety-related issues or concerns
  • having regular conversations about OHS matters and promoting the reporting of unsafe work, risks or hazards
  • breaking down barriers to reporting, for example, fear of retribution
  • promoting safety culture through banners, posters and information with specific focuses or guides installed in areas of risks to remind staff

Keep young workers safe

Under Victoria's health and safety laws, you must provide and maintain a working environment for your employees that is safe and free of risks to health, so far as is reasonably practicable.

Learn more about your obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017.

The following information describes specific steps you can take to meet your legal duties and keep young workers safe. This is not a comprehensive list of obligations an employer must meet, but is intended to help employers understand differences between young workers and other employees.

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