WorkCover NSW: Ensure safety of young workers

young worker
Photo: SafetyCulture Library

WorkCover NSW issued a reminder to businesses to ensure the safety of young workers after two teenage apprentice carpenters were injured on Wednesday.

An 18-year-old paarentice carpenter was assisting in moving floor sheeting off a pallet with a crane when the sheeting came loose, hitting him and breaking his right leg.

Another young apprentice carpenter was also injured when a trench he was standing in partially collapsed and a slab of concrete resting on nearby ground fell into the hole and pinned him, resulting to injuries to his back and legs.

General Manager of WorkCover’s Work Health and Safety Division  John Watson said young workers are often in their first job and require supervision and assistance.

“With thousands of young people entering the workforce for the first time after finishing school and the Christmas/New Year’s holiday period, it is essential for everyone in the workplace to step up and take special care to alert young workers to potential safety hazards,” said Mr Watson.

“Workers aged under 25 may be more vulnerable to workplace safety risks because of their youth and inexperience or reluctance to speak up about safety concerns,” he said.

“Around 12 percent of all employment injuries and occupational diseases occur among the State’s 572,000 young workers.

“During 2009-10 almost 5,000 compensation claims were lodged by young workers with the most common injuries being muscular stress while lifting, carrying or putting down objects.

“Employers should ensure that they have appropriate systems in place to ensure that all workers, including those new to a job or industry, are provided with sufficient training and support to undertake their work safely,” said Mr Watson.

WorkCover offers the following suggestions for employers and workers to help prevent injuries:

For employers:

  • Provide adequate training and supervision in all tasks
  • Provide a comprehensive induction
  • Identify safety risks and put in place procedures to reduce and control the risks
  • Encourage open communication about safety issues


For young workers:

  • Follow all safety procedures and ask questions if uncertain
  • Report any risks and hazards to a supervisor or colleague
  • Use safety equipment and protective clothing if needed
  • Do not fool around with machinery
  • Find out how to report an injury

Mr Watson encourage all workers and employers returning to work after the holiday period to prioritise workplace safety and to take advantage of WorkCover advisory services and resources.

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