For employers

Young workers need more support and supervision at work to ensure they are carrying out their tasks safely. Everything is new and 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 healthy and safe at work.

Learning resource          

This 30- 40 minute presentation (excluding discussion time) is designed to be delivered to groups of supervisors, managers or business owners who supervise young workers.

It was developed in consultation with industry stakeholders who have worked in collaboration with SafeWork NSW to help and support young people at work.

It was developed in consultation with industry stakeholders who have worked in collaboration with SafeWork NSW to help and support young people.

Learning outcomes:

Supervisors and managers have a better understanding of:

  • their legal obligations under work health and safety laws
  • how to support young workers so they stay healthy and safe at work
  • Where you can go to get more information and help.

Key messages to reinforce with supervisors, managers or business owners:

- You have a legal duty to manage the work health and safety of workers

- Young workers need support so they stay healthy and safe at work

- Promote ‘Wait, take five, to young workers:

Wait, take 5:

1. Stop and think

2. Is it safe?

3. Could it hurt someone?

4. If so, speak up

5. Ask for help

Videos

Links to YouTube to be provided

Handouts

We have digital and hardcopy resources that you can distribute to managers or supervisors and managers.  To request hard copies, contact (email address to be provided)

External

Case studies

These case studies have been selected from some of SafeWork NSW prosecutions involving young workers who were injured. This information does not contain or convey legal advice.

A Coffs Harbour manufacturing business has been fined $250,000 after a 17 year old work experience student was injured in August 2014.

Demolition company fined $120,000 after young worker’s skull pierced by steel bar

A Hunter Valley metal fabrication business has been fined $240,000 on appeal after a 15 year old work experience student suffered partial blindness from welding without eye protection.

Read more SafeWork NSW prosecutions

Text Box: Zhang Li*, a 20 year old international student, came to Melbourne to study in 2014 and found a job on her campus working for a fast food restaurant. She worked in a tiny, cramped kitchen space surrounded by hot industrial cooking equipment. There were rice cookers on the floor, no safety gear and no training in how to use the equipment safely. 
“It’s a relatively small space and there was like four workers plus the managers themselves, so it’s quite cramped, especially with all these really hot objects lying around… the hot plates are really hot. 

“People got burnt like quite often…. there was like a rice cooker on the floor where I burnt my leg a couple of times” 

“[The boss] was like ‘oh, lots of people get burned… wear long pants next time’. There’s nothing, no First Aid Kit, no nothing.”

Zhang Li was also being underpaid and was employed off the books. 

When she started to question the safety conditions in her workplace and her pay and sought legal assistance to help, she stopped receiving shifts and was out of a job.

“As soon as they got the [anonymous legal] letter, they stopped calling me in... I got fired basically. I think they suspected [me]…I think it was pretty obvious because I didn’t work there very long and immediately after I came, trouble came. They probably put it together.”

*Name has been changed.
Sourced from Young Workers Centre, Young workers health and safety snapshot October 2016

Helpful tips

Tip 1 -

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 raise concerns.

Tip 2 -

It’s important to know how to provide feedback, effectively and constructively without causing offence. Effective feedback as 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

Tip 3 -

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 maybe heighten.

Tip 4 -

Good leadership can also improve business productivity and is crucial to WHS performance.  Leadership - https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/leadership-culture

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.

Tip 6 –

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

Tip7-

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 - https://www.headsup.org.au/supporting-others/starting-a-conversation

Tip 8 –

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

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