With young people leaving school and looking for work at this time of year, our Advisory Service’s Paul Kilby looks at how you make sure your new and young workers received effective induction, training and information from the start. This article appeared in the December 2021 edition of Workplace Issues.
Inductions cover your health and safety policy and culture, emergency procedures, hazards and risks in your workplace and how these are managed. It should also include key safety people like health and safety reps or committee members, fire wardens, and first aid officers.
If safety messages are properly ‘sold’ during an induction, workers can implement these messages on the job, which means you’ll benefit from fewer incidents occurring. Workers need to understand and believe what is said; otherwise, the message is lost, and induction becomes ineffective.
Leading by example
Safety messages are more likely to be implemented if your workers are convinced by your level of commitment. So how you impart this message is as important as the message itself.
Employers, managers, supervisors, health and safety reps and more senior workers must model and reflect the WHS attitudes that you communicate to your new and young workers in their induction and training. Young workers will look to leaders to better understand your WHS culture.
By setting an example for young workers and having regular open conversations about safety, you can help protect young workers from work-related injury and illness.
WorkSafe research reveals that new young workers have a higher incidence of being injured within their first year of employment. Younger Tasmanian workers (compared with other age groups) have lower levels of WHS awareness, understanding and engagement. Other findings about younger workers include:
- WHS tends to be ranked lower than other workplace issues amongst younger workers
- younger workers tend not to know who to talk to at work about WHS issues; they’re also less likely than older workers to know where to go outside of work for information about WHS
- they’re less likely to raise a WHS issue with their managers or to report an incident or injury; and they’re least likely to speak up when they thought a workmate was not working safely.
Some other points to keep in mind about your new and young workers:
- they may not think an injury is worth mentioning unless they can’t continue to work
- they may assume the equipment and chemicals they work with are safe, and may not be aware of the hazards associated with work being done by others around them
- they may think the protective equipment isn’t cool and won’t wear it unless someone makes them.
As you can see, there are good reasons to put the time and energy into talking safety with your new and young workers!
WorkSafe Tasmania has a guide for young workers (PDF, 614.3 KB), so download a copy to go through with your new young worker.
Fair Work Australia (external link) has great information for employers of young workers.