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What risks do young workers face?

When companies implement comprehensive work health and safety training, the main purpose will be to equip staff with the knowledge they need to start a new job safely. For young workers, this is especially important, as they may not have industry or job-relevant experience, which can put them at further risk.

According to Safe Work Australia,* young workers are also at higher risk of injury, accounting for a disproportionate number of accidents. The research found those under the age of 25 were responsible for 20 per cent of total injuries in the country, experiencing an injury rate that is 18 per cent higher than average.

By industry, young technicians and tradespeople also experienced the highest injury rates.

Young employees were also less likely to apply for compensation than older workers. The study suggested this was down to the perception that these injuries were less important and therefore didn’t require any further action.

It isn’t just very young employees that were that the most risk either, with all new workers experiencing high injury rates, according to a different study from Safe Work South Australia.** This research revealed there are two separate periods where workers are at high risk – the first few months in a new position and then again during the six to 12 month period.

The study suggested that this second period of high injuries came as workers became established in a position and no longer had fellow workers and training staff keeping a close eye on them. However, this lack of direct oversight doesn’t mean that workers aren’t at risk, with injury rates increasing when staff have less oversight.

To keep young employers safe, especially in the first year of their employment, companies will need to implement an effective staff induction process. Using WorkPro to handle the induction process can give managers the peace of mind that their staff are receiving a level of training that is appropriate for the work employees are undertaking.

*Safe Work Australia, Work-related injuries experienced by young workers in Australia, 2009–10, released March 2013.

**Safe Work South Australia, Employer’s guide to ensuring a safe start for new workers.

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