WorkCover urges focus on young worker safety in 2010

Wednesday, 20 January, 2010

With the start of a new year, many young people and school leavers are entering the workforce for the first time. In light of the high incidence of workplace injuries amongst young workers, WorkCover NSW has put a message out to businesses, urging them to prioritise the safety of young workers.

WorkCover NSW Chief Executive Lisa Hunt commented employers and colleagues should take special care to alert these workers to potential safety hazards, stating: “Workers aged under 25 may be more vulnerable to workplace safety risks because of their youth and inexperience or reluctance to speak up about safety concerns.

“WorkCover data indicates that, each day in NSW, 15 young people are injured on the job. Around 13% of all employment injuries and occupational diseases occur among the state’s 562,000 young workers.

“In 2007/08, more than 5600 compensation claims were lodged by young workers and, although this is a 3.5% decrease on the previous year, there is still more work to be done to further reduce injuries. Every workplace injury is one too many.

“Employers are required to ensure that all workers, including those new to a job or industry, are provided with sufficient training and support to undertake their work safely.

“Particular attention must be taken in high-risk areas such as working at heights; using electrical equipment, plant and machinery; and working with chemicals and dangerous goods.”

Employers, in consultation with their workers, should:

  • Provide adequate training and supervision in all tasks;
  • Provide a comprehensive induction;
  • Identify safety risks and put in place procedures to reduce and control the risks; and
  • Encourage open communication about safety issues.

Young workers also have a responsibility to conduct their work safely and should:

  • Follow all safety procedures and ask questions if uncertain;
  • Report any risks and hazards to a supervisor or colleague;
  • Use safety equipment and protective clothing if needed; and
  • Find out how to report an injury.

“I urge all employers and workers returning to work after the holiday period to make workplace safety a priority throughout the year and to take advantage of the assistance that WorkCover offers through our information guides by calling us on 13 10 50 or visiting our website,” Hunt concluded.

WorkCover has a range of initiatives to raise awareness of work health and safety among young workers including a biannual poster competition and online tools.

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