Young workers: Safety basics

Protecting the health and safety of young workers is good for business.


Young workers are the future

Key points

  • There are five key industries where young workers usually work.
  • You should be aware of the extra risks to young workers.
  • Both employers and young workers have occupational health and safety (OHS) responsibilities.
  • WorkSafe can help employers and young workers by giving advice and guidance, and making sure laws. are followed and injured workers are compensated.

Young workers (aged 15-24) bring new skills, energy and innovation into a workforce

Protecting and promoting young workers’ health and safety is an investment for your business now and into the future.

The most common industries where young workers make injury claims are:

  • construction
  • manufacturing
  • hospitality
  • retail
  • health care and social assistance


Young workers come from a range of backgrounds and experiences.

All workers are at risk of workplace harm.

If their employer fails to ensure that equipment and systems of work are safe, they are at a greater risk of harm.

For young workers, there are extra factors that can increase the risk of them getting ill or injured at work.

Some of these factors include:

  • being new to a job or at the start of their career
  • being less familiar with their OHS rights and responsibilities
  • lack of OHS training and supervision
  • less experience than others in the workforce 
  • feeling afraid to speak up about OHS matters
  • not knowing how to report OHS issues at work
  • being pressured by other employees’ unsafe work behaviour

Young workers are often employed in insecure work; for example, casual, part-time, labour hire, unpaid internships, apprenticeships, traineeships and freelance or on-demand work.

This can prevent young workers from speaking up about OHS matters. It can also increase work-related stress compared with employees in secure work.

Health and safety legal duties


Under Victoria's OHS laws, employers must provide and maintain a working environment for their employees that is safe and free from risks to health, so far as reasonably practicable.

This duty includes risks arising from both physical and psychological hazards, such as bullying or customer abuse.

Responsibilities of employers include:

  • providing employees with the information, instruction, training and supervision needed for them to do their job safely
  • providing and maintaining safe machinery and equipment
  • ensuring that employees use, handle, store or transport plant or substances safely
  • providing safe systems of work, for example, a system to prevent falls on slippery surfaces 
  • maintaining the workplace so it is safe and without risks to health, including providing adequate facilities for the welfare of employees
  • providing health and safety information in suitable languages, including the names of who to contact about health and safety matters

Employers must also ensure people other than employees, such as the public, are not exposed to risks to their health or safety from the conduct of their business, so far as reasonably practicable.

Young workers

Under Victoria's OHS laws, all employees, including young workers, must:

  • take reasonable care for their own health and safety in the workplace
  • be careful of how their actions or inactions can impact other people's health and safety
  • co-operate with their employer about action the employer takes to comply with their duties under Victoria's OHS laws
  • not intentionally or recklessly interfere with or misuse anything at the workplace that is there to keep people safe

WorkSafe's role

WorkSafe's role includes:

  • helping Victorian employers and employees to have a healthy and safe working environment
  • ensuring that people follow OHS laws
  • paying compensation for lost wages, medical care and treatment for workers if they're injured at work

If you're worried about an OHS or compensation issue, you can talk to our advisory service.

WorkSafe Advisory Service

WorkSafe's advisory service is available between 7:30am and 6:30pm Monday to Friday. If you need more support, you can also contact WorkSafe using the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) or the National Relay Service.

1800 136 089 More contact options