According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (May 2021), 1.3M individuals are employed in retail, and 880,000 are employed in hospitality, making up just under 17% of the employed population.
Waiters, kitchenhands, bar attendants, sales assistants, cashiers, shelf fillers and stores people make up the top occupations in these sectors.
When we overlay these roles and then the most common safety hazards, risk and injuries in these industries, note how closely they align:
- Lifting and carrying heavy objects and awkward or repetitive movements
- Slips and trips
- Use of ladders, trip hazards, slippery flooring
- Work-related violence, aggression, harassment, and bullying
- Stress from issues such as high work demand and low support, and
- Fatigue, particularly resulting from shift and night work.
Then, we have young workers who make up a significant portion of these workers, who work on an irregular and casual basis. They may even have multiple jobs in different venues or even industries.
Combine young worker lack of experience and physical and psychological immaturity, with the demand by customers in the frenzy and excitement of ‘being free from lockdown’, it is not unreasonable to suggest that these young workers are a high risk for work-related injuries.
I want to pose to you a few questions:
- Have you had to stand down a lot of young workers during the pandemic?
- Have you kept in touch with them?
- When was the last time they worked?
- Have you considered if they may need to be re-inducted?
- What safety information and learning are you delivering to these individuals?
- Will you treat them as if it was their first day on the job when they return?
- Will they follow your procedures?
Don’t assume they have remembered or have ‘work muscle memory’. 😊
October is Work Safety Month, and in line with the re-opening, it is sensible to look at re-inducting your young workers as they come back to work. Be aware that these young workers have been in lock-down, are fatigued from doing nothing, been sedentary and they are primarily focussed on getting back to the act of doing work and earning money. I can almost guarantee they will need your experience, expertise, guidance, and support to get back to work safely.
As your workforce compliance partner, WorkPro has thought about these things for you. We’ve published a free young worker resource to help you to navigate through the circumstances and keep them safe, build safety awareness early in their careers, and reduce injuries as they surge back to work. Even if you are not the employer or owner of the business, but instead a supervisor or Team Manager, this resource presents elements that you can apply in your own role. Safety is everyone’s business! Can’t wait to get out there and enjoy freedom this summer with you all. 😉