Inexperienced Construction Workers

“I think I’ve got this…but mate can you check it to make sure I’m doing it right?” 

As the year commences there are many young and inexperienced construction workers starting in the industry.  

With the construction boom, the industry’s employment has grown by 18% in the last five years – more than double the rate of national employment growth at 8%. Young workers make up about 15% of the workforce and bring energy, new ideas and different opinions. They’re keen to learn ‘tricks of the trade’ from experienced workers but are also injured more frequently and more severely than other workers often while carrying out tasks such as working at height or using common construction tools such as power saws, grinders, nail guns and drills. 

It’s well known that construction is a high risk industry; however young and inexperienced workers may not fully understand the hazards and risks involved. Simple things can be done to assist them. While employers have an obligation to provide a safe workplace and information, instruction and training, everyone should assist with safety by: 

  1. Considering your young workers’ age and experience as a risk factor when identifying hazards and risks in your workplace.
  2. Making sure workers have a construction induction card (white card) and complete relevant site inductions.
  3. Providing information, instruction and training so workers are able to perform their work safely.
  4. Making sure workers are properly supervised.
  5. Ensuring safety controls are in place, e.g. physical edge protection (guardrail/scaffolding).
  6. Encouraging workers to speak up. Listen and act on their health and safety concerns.
  7. Promoting a culture of safety and leading by example.

Some workers may not feel comfortable to speak up. Employers, supervisors, workmates, trade school teachers, family members and friends – everyone who is part of a young or inexperienced worker’s life – can help them transition safely into the workforce. Take the time to check in and ask them how they are going, (if known) explain the hazards and risks associated with their job and most importantly speak up for them. 

Employers, supervisors and workmates can also influence how important safety is through what they say and do (or don’t say and don’t do) about safety on their sites.  

We have an obligation to teach young workers the right way, the safe way to ensure that they too can pass this on the next young worker!  

So, as we start this year, please help us keep young workers safe! 

For further information, please visit the WorkSafe Victoria website:  

worksafe.vic.gov.au/news/2022-02/umm-safe-helping-young-workers-speak 

worksafe.vic.gov.au/young-workers-safety-basics 

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