The safety of young workers and apprentices will be the focus of a joint visit by WorkSafe Victoria and SafeWork NSW to Albury/Wodonga in coming weeks.

The safety regulators will be taking part in the Cross Border Construction Program, which will see groups of inspectors from both regulators come together to attend local building sites on both sides of the border to reduce the risk of young workers being injured.

The inspections will take place from 19 to 23 March.

They will also discuss the similarities, and differences, between the Victorian and NSW work health and safety regulations and how employers and workers can meet their obligations.

During 2015/16 there were 20,335 injury and six fatality claims for young workers in NSW, comprising 15 per cent of all claims. Furthermore, between 2011 and 2016, more than 16,000 young Victorian workers were injured at work, and more than 3,300 of these were in the construction industry.

WorkSafe Head of Hazardous Industries and Industry Practice Michael Coffey said young workers were often still developing physically and mentally and sometimes lacked the experience, knowledge and skills to understand the risks involved in their work.

“We know they are injured more frequently than other workers, and also that the injuries they sustain tend to be more severe in nature,” Mr Coffey said.

“If you’re an employer or supervisor, fellow worker, or even a parent or friend, we urge you to take an interest in young workers and ask them what they’ve been doing and how they keep safe.

“Our message to young workers is to speak up if you are unsure about something,” Mr Coffey said.

SafeWork NSW Group Director, Regional and Response Operations, Tony Williams said starting a new job was an exciting experience for a young person however many took risks that more experienced workers wouldn’t.

“That’s why it’s essential that all businesses provide young workers with appropriate training and supervision through induction programs and safety training, so they understand the business’s safety policies and procedures and are able to speak up about safety issues,” Mr Williams said.

The joint project was prompted by alarming statistics that showed 49 young workers aged 15-24 were injured in Victoria every week in 2015/16 with construction one of the leading sectors where injuries occurred. Serious incidents involving young workers in the Victorian and New South Wales construction industry include:

  • a sixteen year old apprentice carpenter was injured in an incident at a construction site at Albury in January 2018 when he fell 3.5 metres from scaffolding while installing cladding. A plank had been removed from the scaffolding so that materials could be placed through it, before the worker fell through the gap.
  • A second apprentice carpenter was also injured at Moama construction site in February 2017. The worker lacerated his thumb while using a circular saw to cut a piece of timber on the site.
  • an 18 year old suffered burns in an explosion while he was using a jack hammer on a stormwater drain in Maddingley
  • a 21 year old suffered a fractured neck after falling through a suspended floor during renovation work in Geelong

For further information on young worker safety visit www.worksafe.vic.gov.au or www.safework.nsw.gov.au

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