Young workers

Who are young workers?

Young workers are aged 15–24 and are often part-time or casual workers. They may also work full time or as an apprentice or trainee. Young workers are a very vulnerable group of employees, with injury rates out of proportion with other worker age groups.

Research shows that many young workers don’t get proper training. They don’t always understand their rights and responsibilities and don’t see themselves as a high-risk group. Young workers need extra support to ensure they are able to carry out tasks correctly and safely.

Young workers are at a high risk of injury in a workplace due to their lack of experience, and they  may also be less aware of WHS risks may also be:

Other reasons may include:

  • developing their skills, competencies, and physical capabilities
  • unfamiliar with appropriate workplace behaviours
  • reluctant to make requests, ask questions or speak out about problems
  • overly keen to please and make a good impression, and
  • over-confident in their capabilities

Young worker injuries

Young workers injured 2014-17

Between 2014-17 young workers accounted for 16% of all worker injuries.

The most common injuries were:

  • laceration/wound
  • soft tissue injury
  • bruising & superficial crushing
  • foreign object in eyes, ears or nose


  • Body stressing
  • Being hit by moving objects
  • Trips, slips and falls
  • Hitting objects with part of the body
  • Mental stress
  • Heat, electricity, and other environmental factors

Tips for employers

As an employer, you must ensure the work environment and the way workers carry out their work is safe and healthy, regardless of the type and terms of their employment. This includes protecting young workers from both physical and psychological workplace hazards. Employers of young workers should:

  • understand young workers’ risk profile
  • ensure a safe and healthy workplace
  • provide information, training, instruction and supervision
  • develop a positive workplace culture.

Consider the tasks you give to new and young workers, given their skills, abilities, and experience. Before a young person begins work, a person conducting a business or undertaking should identify the gaps in the worker’s knowledge and assess their ability to work safely. Competency should be tested. It is not sufficient to accept a young worker’s assurance that he or she is experienced and competent.

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