For employers

If you’re an employer, you must remember that young workers have no, or limited, work experience.

Remember, young workers may be new to the workforce, or could have limited experience. They may not understand the risks of what they are doing, or know how to protect themselves from injury, both physical and psychological.

By investing time and resources in them from their first day in the job, young workers are more likely to remain healthy and safe throughout their working life and contribute to a happier and more efficient work environment.

SafeWork NSW inspector

Young workers need more support and supervision at work to ensure they are carrying out their tasks safely, especially while they’re learning. Keep checking in to ensure they are still performing their tasks correctly as they may not speak up if they need help.

If you manage or supervise a young worker, you have a legal obligation under work health and safety laws to protect them from incidents.

This page contains a range of information to help you understand your obligations and how to support young workers to stay safe and healthy at work.

How to support young workers

This 45 minute presentation (excluding discussion time) is designed to be delivered to groups of supervisors, managers or business owners who supervise young workers. It will help you better understand your legal obligations, how to support young workers so they stay safe and healthy, and where to go for more information.

Before you start read the speakers notes which have instructions on how to deliver the presentation.  You'll also need to hand out these fact sheets: your rights at work fact sheet, young workers and mental health, young workers

Find out more

Real stories

Sailfish Catamarans - winners in the 2017 SafeWork Awards for ‘Excellence in workplace health and safety culture’ for small business.

Based in Alstonville in northern NSW, Sailfish Catamarans has grown to over 19 full time tradesmen and apprentices building about 30 custom catamarans a year.

The company is proud of its young workforce and employs a new apprentice every year – and from day one a safety culture is embedded.

New employees are taught the company’s values, what they will learn, work ethic and workplace expectations. This, coupled with a no bullying policy and apprentice buddy system, allows everyone to understand and own their responsibilities in the workplace.

In September 2006, 19-year-old Brodie Panlock ended her life after enduring ongoing humiliating and intimidating bullying by her co-workers at a café in Hawthorn.

Who's responsible?

Select one of the tabs below for a quick guide.

It doesn't matter if your worker is on work experience or a job placement, or employed on a full time, part time or casual basis, they have the right to a safe and healthy workplace.

Workers have responsibilities to:

  • take reasonable care of yourself and others
  • comply with any reasonable instructions, policies and procedure given by your employer, business or controller of the workplace.

More information

Some practical ways of carrying out your duty of care responsibilities include ensuring:

  • the work environment, systems of work, machinery and equipment are safe and properly maintained
  • information, training, instruction and supervision are provided
  • adequate workplace facilities are available for workers and any accommodation you provide to your workers is safe
  • workers’ health and workplace conditions are monitored
  • chemicals are handled and stored safely.

More information

Your duties include:

  • making decisions about health and safety that may affect work activities or other people
  • ensuring legal requirements regarding health and safety are met
  • actioning safety reports and carrying out workplace inspections
  • ensuring safe work method statements are completed
  • ensuring safe work practices
  • conducting inductions and regular safety briefings
  • participating in incident investigations
  • leading by example and promoting health and safety at every opportunity.

More information

Wait, take five

Stop take 5

Introduce the key messaging to give to young workers to reinforce positive safety behaviour.  When training young workers ask them to think about these actions before a task.

Wait, take five

1. Stop...

2. Is it safe?

3. Could it hurt someone?

4. Speak up

5. Ask

Watch the videos below to see what happens to these young workers in a matter of seconds

They were selected to highlight the importance to:

  • understand the risks and don’t perform tasks you haven’t done before without training, supervision or instruction
  • talk and build working relationships with more experienced workers
  • ask questions to make sure you understand what is expected of you
  • report WHS concerns promptly, so that immediate action can be taken to resolve the issue
  • know your WHS policies and procedures (remember ask questions if don’t understand)
  • use required personal protective equipment

Source: WorkSafe Victoria

Warning: these videos contain footage that some viewers may find distressing

SafeWork prosecutes when necessary

These media releases below have been selected from some of SafeWork NSW prosecutions involving young workers who were injured.

Read more about SafeWork NSW prosecutions


Helpful tips

Here are a few quick tips to keep your young workers healthy and safe. Give them out prior to a work experience placement or during general conversation about how they’re going at work.

1. Empower your workers

Many young workers are worried that they could be targeted as troublemakers and lose shifts or the jobs entirely for raising health or safety issues in the workplace.

Ensure your young workers are empowered to speak up.

2. Know how to provide feedback

It’s important to know how to provide feedback, effectively and constructively without causing offence. Effective feedback is that which is clearly heard, understood and accepted.

  1. Feedback should be about behaviour not personality
  2. Were the actions helpful to outcomes you wanted
  3. Feedback should be as specific as possible
  4. Feedback should be timely
  5. Pick your moment

And remember always close the loop.

3. Language is key

Don’t ask your young worker why they did that, ask 'what did they do?' or 'what do you think worked?' Under stressful situations emotions may heighten. If something goes wrong, don’t ask your young worker ‘why they did that’, instead ask ‘what did they do?

4. Good leaders are good for business 

Good leadership is crucial to WHS performance. By setting an example and creating a safe work culture you can influence the behaviours of others and, in turn, also improve business productivity.

More information on leadership

5. Check in often

Speak to young workers regularly. Having a good relationship means you will know what their normal behaviour is and can identify when things have changed.

Keep checking in with your young worker. Ask how things are going? Do they need any assistance?

If you are concerned about your young worker, don’t worry if you don’t quite know what to say. Just be supportive and listen. For more conversation tips -

6. Buddy system

When your young worker first starts in your organisation it maybe their first job out of training. Consider getting them to ghost (shadow) an experienced colleague.

7. Build rapport

Having a good relationship means you will know what their normal behaviour is and can identify when things have changed.

If you are concerned about your young worker, don’t worry if you don’t quite know what to say. Just be supportive and listen.

For more conversation tips -

8. Make safety part of the conversation

Safety starts with having a conversation with all workers. This is even more important with young workers who may not be aware of risks. Making safety part of the everyday conversation everyone has builds a workplace culture where young workers feel comfortable asking questions and sharing safety concerns.

9. Always consider age when considering risk

Consider your young worker's age and experience as a risk factor when identifying hazards and risks in your workplace. Also consider your young worker's age and experience when considering whether your controls for such hazards are sufficient.

10. Tailor the induction process to age

Make sure they get a proper induction. You might need to tailor this to their experience level, including life experience level.

Videos on young workers and mental health:

1. Insights into young people and the workplace

In this seminar Andrew Johnson, the Advocate for Children and Young People explains the role of the Advocate and discusses insights into young people and the workplace.

Andrew was appointed to his current role in January 2015, has more than 20 years of national and international experience working in senior leadership positions NGOs, and international intergovernmental organisations.

2. Q&A panel @ young workers and mental health seminar

During 2017 Mental Health Month SafeWork NSW conducted a Q&A panel discussion with the following people regarding the theme of Mental Health Month ‘share the journey’.

  • Tara Lal  - full-time firefighter and voluntary member of the Fire and Rescue NSW critical incident and peer support team
  • Warren Johnson - Chief Executive of  Youthsafe
  • Jim Kelly  - Director of Health and Return to Work at SafeWork NSW
  • Kevin Figueiredo – General Manager Group Safety, Health and Wellbeing

Useful guides and posters:

Training young workers checklist
Training young workers

You can use this checklist when training young workers and print it out so both you, and your young worker have a copy.

Find out more
Getting support

You can print out this guide and keep it handy.  It includes a range of information if you’re faced with a difficult situation at work.

This guide is also available in: Arabic, Chinese (simplified), Filipino, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Malay and Vietnamese.

Find out more
The basics - your rights at work

It doesn't matter what type of worker you are, you are covered by work health and safety laws that apply to everyone in Australia.  The poster explains your rights.

Find out more
Young workers infographic poster

Print out this poster to show your workmates the statistics on young workers and why it's everyone's job to help keep them safe.

Find out more
Young workers and mental health

Read about the statistics on young workers and mental health so that you can health them stay safe.

Find out more
Young workers fact sheet

There are a number of risk factors that impact a young workers's ability to stay safe.

Find out more
Easy to do work health and safety

The 'easy to do work health and safety toolkit' makes it easier for small businesses to understand their work health and safety obligations.

Find out more

Useful web pages:

We have resources you can distribute to managers and/or supervisors.

External resources:

Children’s safety in the workplace A printable infographic from SafeWork Australia that shows young people are especially vulnerable when it comes to safety at work

Thoughts about workplace safety A printable infographic from SafeWork Australia that shows what workers and employers are thinking and doing

Difficult conversations with a bit of humour, this video demonstrates that many supervisors, managers and employers sometimes hesitate in having a conversation with a worker when they’ve noticed something might be wrong out of fear

Starting a conversation This video shows that it doesn't matter if you think you don’t quite know what to say. Just by being supportive and listening, you’re helping to make a difference.

The Obedience Experiment This video is based on a series of psychological experiments conducted in the 1960s which highlighted people’s willingness to obey requests from authority figures even if those requests were harmful to themselves or others

Brain development When does a person really become a 'grown up?' Surely age can't be the only determining factor? Laci Green looks at how the brain matures and what it means (from a scientific perspective) to be an adult.


In alphabetical order

Anti-Discrimination Board

P: 1800 670 812


Australian Taxation Office

P: 13 28 65 (individuals)

P: 13 72 26 (businesses)

Fair Work Commission

P: 1300 799 675 (out of hours emergency 0419 318 011)


Fair Work Ombudsman

P: 13 13 94

Human Rights Commission

P: 1300 656 419



P: 13 77 22



P: 9385 9588


SafeWork NSW

P: 13 10 50



P: 13 10 50


NSW Police

P: 131 444 (general enquiries)

National Relay Service (24 hour service)

TTY/voice calls: 133 677

Speak & Listen: 555 727

SMS relay: 0423 677 767

NSW Ombudsman

P: 1800 451 524


Office of eSafety Commissioner

P: 1800 880 176

Revenue NSW

P: 9689 6200

Translation Information Service

P: 131 450 (24 hour service)

National Relay Service (24 hour service)

TTY/voice calls: 133 677

Speak & Listen: 555 727

SMS relay: 0423 677 767

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