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Look after young workers starting on a job

Queensland workplaces have been urged to plan ahead, look after young workers and not rush jobs ahead of Christmas holiday shutdowns.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland’s Principal Inspector Fiona O’Sullivan said businesses could be tempted to rush to finish jobs ahead of the holiday break, and assign jobs to young or inexperienced workers to get the job completed quickly.

“The safety risks are just not worth cutting corners for and this warning applies whether it is a city construction site or work on a farm,” Ms O’Sullivan said.

“We recently investigated an incident where a young worker fell from a structure at a feedlot near Coominya, in the Brisbane Valley.

“Fortunately, the young worker’s injuries were not severe, but the potential for it to have been a lot worse was very real.

“While there is no suggestion in this instance that the young person was not trained for the work he was completing, it is important to stress that young workers need to be shown how to do the job properly.”

Ms O'Sullivan said managing the risk of working at height in the agriculture sector could be difficult, but there was always a way to do it safely.

“Young workers on the land, and in other workplaces across the state, are particularly at risk of severe injury,” she said.

“They can be easily distracted, usually eager to please, and often don't see the consequences of taking a shortcut, or rushing to get a job done until it is too late.

“This time of year through to early next year can be a particularly dangerous period as young people start their careers or pick up holiday jobs.

“Each year around 50 young Queenslanders a day are injured at work, with one young Queenslander permanently impaired every day. Young males aged 15-24 have the highest injury rates of all workers.

“While young people are enthusiastic, they may jump headlong into jobs without being properly prepared. Employers and supervisors have an obligation to train and supervise young workers in proper safe work procedures.

“Young workers have a unique risk profile and employers need to consider this when managing them.”

Work health and safety laws require employers to:

  • identify the health and safety risks of particular work tasks and adopt procedures to eliminate or control them
  • train workers in the procedures and provide them with any safety equipment they need
  • ensure workers perform their tasks safely by providing training, supervision and support
  • encourage workers to speak to supervisors about any health and safety concerns.

For more information on managing young workers, visit www.worksafe.qld.gov.au or call 1300 362 128.

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Last reviewed
28 November 2014
Last updated
5 November 2015

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