Prioritise Worker Safety in 2019, Especially Young Workers

Let’s work to ensure that 2019 is better for workplace health and safety than 2018 was.  Although we did see a slight improvement last year in comparison to the previous year, more needs to be done to keep workers safe, particularly young and inexperienced workers.

A recent court case in Brisbane is a reminder of the importance of training and supervision of young workers in keeping them safe. A company was in court over an incident that involved a young worker who had injured his hand.

The company was fined $80,000 over the incident which involved a wheel trencher. The incident prompted Workplace Health and Safety Queensland to remind employers to protect young workers particularly because of their inexperience and eagerness which often causes them to take risks.

In Queensland around 50 young workers are injured every day and one a day is permanently impaired.

Authorities reminded employers to consider their unique risk profile when managing them. They were also reminded that proper induction is vital, in construction that includes White Card training as well as site specific and job specific training. Young workers also require additional support and supervision.


Help Available for NSW First Time Workers

As many young people enter the workforce in 2019, it’s important that they have access to help and advice to face the challenges of life on the job site, particularly for those entering trade fields.

Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean recently announced the SafeWork Young Workers eToolkit which he said is a resource to help more than 500 000 young workers across the state of NSW.

As Mr Kean highlighted, it can be daunting starting work for the first time especially for young people who are inexperienced and eager to please. Young people often don’t know their rights when it comes to workplace health and safety issues like harassment or bullying, that is why the toolkit can prove so helpful.

The toolkit is a free-to-access tool which also has real life stories and advice for young workers.

Mr Kean explained,

“It’s often hard enough for older workers to have confidence when dealing with workplace health and safety issues, let alone young people entering the workplace for the first time.


Some of the issues that the toolkit covers includes bullying, abuse by customers, injuries at work and mental health issues.

The toolkit is important because this group of workers has been identified as ‘at risk’. In 2017 there were six fatalities involving people under the age of 25 in NSW.

In the 2015-2016 more than 13,000 temporary disability and 3 permanent disability claims were made by young workers.

“These statistics are devastating. We want to make sure young workers, their supervisors and employers have the best information possible to avoid tragedies in the workplace,” Mr Kean said.

“The last thing we want to see is new workers being put in dangerous situations, especially if it’s the first job they’ve ever had.

“It’s essential that businesses provide refresher training and adequate supervision all year round. This should include things like induction programs and safety training, so young workers understand safety policies and procedures.


For those entering the construction industry for the first time, whether young or old, it’s important not only that they are supervised until they are more at ease and comfortable with the work involved, but that they are adequately trained. Training for the construction industry is not just task specific or site specific, while these are important – general construction induction training is mandatory for all workers.

General construction induction training or how to work safely in the construction industry training is a basic requirement mandated by the federal government in 2012 when workplace health and safety laws were unified. It’s important that employers ensure all workers, are in possession of a white card, the proof that they have completed this induction safety training. For more visit

Teach Young Workers to Put Safety First

Safe Work Australia recently urged everyone to participate in the celebration of the World Day for Safety and Health at Work and Worker’s Memorial Day to honour people who died from work-related illness or injury.

This year the safety regulator urged employers to focus on the safety of young workers and future generations with ‘Generation Safe and Healthy’.

Safe Work Australia reminds everyone of the lack of experience and maturity of young workers and that their lack of awareness of workplace health and safety may increase the risk of workplace injury.

They urged employers, supervisors and other leaders to give these young workers the right tools and training to do the job safely and encourage them to speak up about health and safety.  Read more at

Teenager Crushed by Excavator on First Day at Work

A horrendous workplace accident has taken place on a construction site at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital where a young worker was crushed by an excavator on his first day at work.

The 16 year old lad is fighting for his life after the accident at an East Killara worksite recently.

The young worker suffered extensive chest injuries as well as injuries to his abdomen, pelvis and legs.

While the events that led to the accident have not become clear, it is believed the young man was on soft ground that may have saved his life as he came under excavator tracks.

The father of the minor was tracked down and police escorted him to the hospital.

The incident is under investigation with forensic officers having visited the scene with SafeWork.

This incident once again reminds us of how important training and supervision is for young workers.


Young Workers in Construction under the Spotlight


This week will see the start of a cross border construction inspection at Echuca and Moama, focussing on young workers.

Work health and safety inspectors will be visiting sites on both sides of the border from 21 to 25 November and will be paying particular attention to young workers’ safety.

Inspectors will be highlighting the similarities between work health and safety laws in Victoria and NSW.

As SafeWork NSW Director, Regional and Response Operations, Tony Williams said thousands of young workers are entering the region’s workplaces for the first time and there is a major need to focus on safety in the construction sector, particularly because young workers are not only inexperienced but eager to impress.

Find out more

The Keys to Keeping Young Workers Safe

Young workers are arguably the most at risk on the worksite, mostly due to their inexperience on the job and in life in general, that is why I found an article written by Joanna Weekes on useful.

The post entitled “6 steps to keep young workers safe” highlights the steps that employers can take to ensure the most “at risk” workers on the site are being protected.

Despite the fact that young workers are usually the most eager and willing to please workers you will come across, they are also the ones with the least knowledge and experience which makes them a safety risk. Employers cannot underestimate the need for protection when it comes to this section of the work force.

The article goes on to highlight the 6 steps to making a workplace safer for young workers.

people_160Take these steps to keep your young workers safe:

  • introduce new workers to their supervisor and co-workers; 
  • carry out inductions of the workplace, work tasks, and health and safety policies and procedures;
  • explain the process for reporting a safety incident or concern;
  • roster experienced workers with young or inexperienced workers to ensure they are adequately supervised;
  • ensure there are always adequate staffing numbers, particularly during busy periods; and
  • provide training for all new workers.

Source: Source:

Training is one of the most crucial aspects of worker safety especially young workers who are both inexperienced and not as knowledgeable as older workers.

Naturally safety training is the best way to pass safety knowledge on to young workers who are probably entering the work site with little or no knowledge of safety. They should receive training that covers first aid, health and safety policies, accident and emergency procedures; and bullying, discrimination and harassment policies.

As the writer points out, in certain industries such as the construction industry workers also need to receive training that covers correct use of personal protective equipment; manual handling, e.g. how to safely lift heavy objects; and how to safely operate equipment and machinery.

For young people beginning in the construction sector they must first complete White Card training which is the mandatory construction safety training course required for anyone embarking on construction work.

Getting a Construction White Card online has become the most popular choice because of its convenience. The White Card (CPCCOHS1001A Construction Industry Induction Training) is now available online 24-7 and is here we show how simple it is to complete the training.


White Card Update: SA Unions concerned about Exploitation of Teenage Workers

We have in the past discussed the vulnerability of young workers in the construction industry and the importance that they are appropriately trained and supervised. Now the SA unions and parents of teenage workers are concerned about the exploitation of teenage workers who are simply working over the school holidays to make some extra pocket money.

This is of particular concern in SA and Tasmania because these states lack the child labour laws that are present in other states which stop these young people from being exploited by their employers because of their naivety and inexperience.

In addition there are concerns that young workers are more easily bullied and tend to keep quiet about the bullying.

The Young Workers Legal Service in South Australia is inundated every year will calls from parents concerned about these youth employment issues.

Some of the issues include bullying, sexual harassment, underpayment of wages and unfair dismissal. There are now calls for specific laws to be developed for workers who are under 18.

When it comes to the construction industry, most of the concern lies around the fact that young workers in this industry aren’t given the training and supervision that they need to work safely while engaging in such high-risk work.

Quite often young workers will be asked to complete tasks which they have not be specifically trained to undertake and because of their shyness and fear to ask, they attempt to undertake the task and end up being injured and in some circumstances even killed.

Firstly before hiring young people to work on a construction site, it is vital to ensure that they have completed general construction industry safety training. This training known as The White Card course will familiarise these young workers with the hazards that lie on construction sites so that they will be better equipped to handle the risks associated with these hazards if and when they come across them on site.

Training is the foundation upon which employers can build an attitude of safety among workers. Any worker who enters into the construction industry must first undergo safety training, according to Australian legislation including teenage workers who are working casually on site.

More than just fulfilling a mandatory legal requirement, safety induction training also lays the foundation of safety knowledge which workers will utilise every time they step onto a construction site.

When a young worker steps onto a construction site, chances are they are not familiar with hazards associated with the machinery, equipment, general environment, work processes etc. which makes them vulnerable to injury and their inexperience could place others on site at risk as well.

In addition to ensuring that each young worker is in possession of a White Card, employers must also ensure that these young people receive additional site specific training as well as additional training relating to the tasks they are given. No matter how much training these young workers are given, it is still important to ensure that they are being adequately supervised.