Young workers: information for employers

Good leadership helps protect young workers from illness and injury.

Invest in young workers

The business case for the employment of young workers is clear. Young workers bring a range of short and long-term benefits to Victorian workplaces, including:

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

Good leadership helps protect young workers

When employees know that health and safety is important to those in leadership positions, they are more likely to be motivated to follow safety procedures and raise safety issues.

It's critical that employers, managers, supervisors, HSRs and more senior workers model and reflect the OHS attitudes communicated to young workers in their induction and training. Young workers will be looking to leaders to better understand the workplace health and safety culture.

By setting an example for young workers, having regular open conversations about OHS matters and continuing to promote the channels for reporting unsafe work you can help protect young workers from work-related injury and illness.

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. As part of this, you have a range of responsibilities, including the following, which are essential to reducing the risk of injury for young workers:

  • providing employees with the necessary information, instruction, training and supervision to enable them to do their job safely
  • providing and maintaining safe machinery and equipment, and systems of work, so far as is reasonably practicable
  • maintaining the workplace so it is safe and without risks to health, so far as is reasonably practicable

For the purposes of these duties, ‘employees’ includes contractors, sub-contractors, employees of a contractor and labour hire employees. Employees are those with a contract of employment or training. Volunteers are not employees, even if they receive out of pocket expenses.

Employers must also ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that people other than employees are not exposed to risks to their health or safety arising from the employer's conduct.

Below are some specific steps you can take to meet your legal duties and keep young workers safe:

  1. Provide information

    Make sure young workers get a proper induction. Key components of a health and safety induction for young workers should include:

    • OHS introduction including how to identify and report unsafe work
    • workplace hazards and risk control measures
    • OHS policies and procedures
    • first aid and emergencies
    • tour and introductions including Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs)
  2. Provide instruction and training

    Make sure workers understand how to carry out their job safely. Use the 'Tell me, show me, watch me' approach when doing task-specific instruction and training with young workers. This approach has three steps:

    1. Tell me - provide a clear and detailed explanation of the task to the young worker, highlight key elements and outline the documented procedure.
    2. Show me - demonstrate the task while the young worker observes you, explain key elements and ask the young worker questions to check their understanding.
    3. Watch me - observe the young worker performing the task and provide clear and constructive feedback to support them to perform the task safely.
  3. Provide personal protective equipment (PPE)

    Provide young workers with the necessary equipment and show them how to wear/use any protective gear. Ensure that young workers understand why PPE is important and how it can prevent work-related injuries and illnesses.

  4. Supervise

    Research shows that quality relationships between supervisors and their young workers reduce the risk of injury in the workplace. Often young workers are worried about losing shifts or their job if they raise health and safety issues. Modelling positive working relationships, providing constructive feedback and encouraging them to keep asking questions can empower young workers to speak up.

  5. Consult 

    As an employer, you are responsible for sharing health and safety information with all employees. Include young workers in consultation about health and safety matters, such as workplace hazards and control measures, and encourage them to actively participate in the consultation process. Ensure that health and safety representatives (HSRs) are included as part of the health and safety culture in the workplace.