Young workers: information for employers

Good leadership helps protect young workers from illness and injury.


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

Young workers are also more likely to be injured because they are often new to a job and may be inexperienced.

Did you know young workers have the highest chance of being injured in the first 6 months of starting a new job?

Young workers are a diverse group of people who may react and behave differently to more experienced employees in the same situations. They often look to peers to reassure them and are less likely to ask questions for fear of negative consequences. This is where you can help them.

Understanding the unique risks to young workers is important to help 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.

The term ‘safety culture’ means the set of positive occupational health and safety (OHS) values, beliefs and views that employers and employees share and demonstrate in the workplace.

To support young workers in the workplace, it is important that your workplace’s safety culture promotes ensuring safety, reducing risks and talking openly about hazards.

A positive workplace safety culture makes workers feel safer, increases productivity and lowers staff turnover.

Safety culture starts with leaders who value and model safe behaviour at work. Leaders can do this by:

  • identifying hazards and acting quickly to fix them before they become a risk to physical or mental health
  • finding safer ways to work
  • showing their commitment to safety by complying with OHS duties
  • prioritising and responding to safety-related issues or concerns
  • having regular talks about OHS matters and encouraging everyone to report unsafe work or workplace hazards
  • breaking down barriers to reporting, for example, fear of retribution
  • promoting safety culture by displaying targeted safety information or installing guides and reminders in high-risk areas

Keep young workers safe

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

Learn more about your duties under the OHS Act 2004 and OHS Regulations 2017.

The information below describes steps you can take to meet your legal duties and keep young workers safe. This is not a comprehensive list, but it can help you to understand how young workers are different to other, more experienced employees.

Provide information

All employees require a proper induction.

Young workers are often inexperienced and may need more information than other employees.

Key parts 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 of the workplace and introductions to key personnel, including health and safety representatives (HSRs), if any
  • ongoing training and chances to ask questions

Provide instruction and training

Young workers may need extra instruction and training because they are newer to the workforce. Be aware that they may not ask for this, so you need to make sure young workers understand how to do their job or use equipment safely.

You may also need to consider young workers' skill or experience when designing and reviewing systems of work, to ensure their safety.

Use the 'Tell me, Show me, Watch me' approach when doing task-specific instruction and training with young workers. This approach has 3 steps:

New jobs can be overwhelming, so give young workers plenty of chances to ask questions and take the time to listen and repeat information if you need to.

Provide personal protective equipment (PPE)

You must provide young workers with the equipment needed to do their job safely and show them how to wear or use PPE (if relevant).

Explain why they need PPE for the task, how it will prevent injuries and the type of injuries that can occur if they don’t use PPE correctly or at all. Ensure that young workers understand why PPE is important.

It’s especially important to check that all employees are using PPE when a new worker starts at the workplace. This will support the young worker’s confidence to always use their PPE.


Good relationships between supervisors and their young workers can lower the risk of workplace injuries. Young workers often worry about losing shifts or their job if they raise health and safety concerns. Modelling positive working relationships, giving useful feedback, and encouraging questions supports a culture of safety and can empower young workers to speak up. It also encourages young workers to do their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health.


You must include young workers in consultation about OHS matters, such as workplace hazards and control measures.

You should encourage young workers to take part in the consultation process. For example, you could set up daily stand-up meetings with young workers at the start of shifts to discuss safety issues, encourage open discussion and build team rapport.

Ensure that HSRs are included as part of the health and safety culture in the workplace.

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