Are school leavers ready to join the work force? Have 10-12 years of school prepared them for that first day in the workplace? Has 3-4 years at university or a technical college prepared a young professional with the practical skills to work safely?

Considering the diverse range of work places out there and therefore the huge range of possible hazards a school leaver or young person may face, how can we prepare them for the future?

It’s no surprise that young workers are highly susceptible to workplace hazards, due to their inexperience, unwillingness to question, over-eagerness to impress and lack of training they are often in the most in danger of suffering injury, illness or even death on a work site.

A Safework Australia report, published in March 2013 and detailing the work related injuries and deaths of young people for the years 2009 – 2010, unearthed some sobering statistics.

In 2009-10 workers aged under 25 years accounted for 20% of work-related injuries experienced by all Australian workers. This  equates to an injury rate of 66.1 work-related injuries per 1000 workers. 18% higher than the rate for workers aged 25 years & over. Older workers: 56.2 injuries per 1000 workers.

A surprising result was that while young male workers had a higher incidence rate of work-related injury than their female counterparts, on an ‘per hour’ basis young female workers had a frequency rate of injury 13% higher than young male workers.

Creating a safety positive culture and awareness in young workers must begin with training. Well before a school leaver or young person steps foot into any new workplace they should be prepared with the skills and knowledge to identify hazards, assess risks, and implement controls.

Whether that be by completing white card training, if they are about to enter the construction industry, or a safety unit of competency as a part of a larger training package.

WorkSafe WA has just implemented a program focusing on young people entering the workforce for the first time called ‘Smart Move’. This initiative will provide young workers with a safety ‘passport’ that covers simple yet important health & Safety principles.

This addresses a need that has been long ignored, and which will hopefully positively influence the safety performance of young workers.

Follow these links for:
SafeWork Australia’s report http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/SWA/about/Publications/Documents/764/work-related-injuries-experienced-young-workers-Australia-2009-10.pdf

WorkSafe WA’s Smart Move initiative http://smartmove.safetyline.wa.gov.au/