Safety tips for new and young workers and their employers
This information is for you if you are:
- an employer of new and/or young workers;
- a young worker;
- starting a new job;
- taking on a new role or task for the same employer;
- changing careers; or
- re-entering the workforce after a break.
New and young workers could be working permanently or casually, full or part time. They could be contractors, apprentices, trainees or those taking part in work experience or a structured workplace learning program.
Who can new and young workers speak to for more information or help?
- Speak to your immediate supervisor, employer and/or health and safety representative if your workplace has one.
- Health and safety representatives are there to represent workers on health and safety issues to your employer or management representative.
- If your workplace doesn’t have a health and safety representative, you can ask your employer to set up a process so one can be elected.
- You could also speak to one of your more experienced workmates.
What are the employers’ responsibilities for workplace health and safety?
To provide a safe and healthy workplace
As an employer, you must, as far as practicable, 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 preventing them from both physical hazards (for example, slippery floors, heavy loads, faulty and unguarded machinery and equipment and chemicals) and ‘psychosocial’ workplace hazards (for example, bullying, violence and fatigue).
Consider the tasks you give to new and young workers, given their skills, abilities and experience.
To provide training and supervision
As an employer, you must make sure workers have enough information, training and supervision to enable them to work safely. This training must:
- show workers how to do their job safely and how to recognise hazards on the job;
- provide and show workers how to safely use the necessary machinery and equipment; and
- provide and show workers how to safely wear and use any personal protective clothing and equipment (PPE), such as gloves, safety footwear and goggles.
You should also:
- show workers how to report any safety concerns or hazards;
- help them to get to know the workplace layout, their immediate supervisor, safety and health representative (if there is one) and co-workers; and
- make it easy for new and young workers to ask questions – don’t assume they will ask.
To talk to workers about safety and health
As an employer, you are responsible for sharing information with workers about workplace safety and health matters, including:
- asking for their input when looking at any workplace hazards and ways to control them;
- discussing new machinery and equipment when it is introduced into their work area;
- holding discussions at team or toolbox meetings where safety and health concerns can be raised; and
- holding discussions with safety and health representatives (if any).
What are new and young workers’ responsibilities for workplace safety and health?
To work safely
Look after yourself and others by:
- following all reasonable instructions for doing the job;
- following workplace procedures;
- not putting yourself or your workmates at risk;
- wearing personal protective clothing and equipment (PPE) as required; and
- reporting unsafe situations and injuries to your supervisor, employer and/or safety and health representative (if there is one).
To ask if you’re not sure
Find out how to do things safely by:
- taking the induction and training seriously;
- knowing and following the safety and health requirement of your job; and
- if you are not sure how to do something safely, asking for help or training before you start the task.
Work is important, but your life is more important. Some ways you could ask your supervisor for help are to ask questions like:
- ‘I’m not sure how this works, could you spare a few minutes to show me again?’
- ‘I think I’ve got the hang of this, but can you watch to make sure I’m doing everything right?’
- ‘I’m still a bit uncomfortable with this, would you mind explaining it/or showing it to me again?’
To report your concerns
If you are concerned about your own or your co-workers’ safety and health:
- talk to your supervisor, employer and/or safety and health representative (if there is one) straight away – this might about slippery floors, lifting heavy loads, faulty or unguarded machinery and equipment, chemicals, bullying, violence or fatigue;
- talk to one of your more experienced co-workers;
- if you work through a group training organisation or labour hire agency, report your concerns to them, as well;
- if you are a work experience or structured workplace learning student, you should also speak to your teacher or trainer about your concerns;
- where attempts to resolve a safety and health issue at work have not succeeded and you think there is a risk of imminent and serious injury or harm to health, you can contact WorkSafe and request an inspector attend the workplace; and/or
- where attempts to resolve a safety and health issue at work have not succeeded and there is no risk of imminent and serious injury, you can contact WorkSafe for advice. If you wish an inspector to attend the workplace, your request will be considered – you can request that WorkSafe does not release your name to your employer.
- New and young workers: Frequently asked questions
- Your rights and responsibilities
- Young worker safety toolkit for managers, supervisors, leaders and mentors - Workplace Health and Safety Queensland
- Educational tools:
- SmartMove - this is a comprehensive workplace safety and health educational resource for senior high school students and new and young workers entering the workforce for the first time or on a work placement, work experience, or as a school-based trainee/apprentice.
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