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Young workers at high risk for workplace accidents

Jun 15, 2018

A new management guide has been developed by Programmed to keep young workers safe and reduce the risk of workplace accidents. Supervisors and managers play a vital role in protecting our young workers on a daily basis.


It’s devastating that, from 2003 to 2016, 335 young workers aged under 25 have died on work sites across Australia. These are young people just starting out in their careers and life, excited and hopeful for the future, but before reaching their full potential, their lives have been cut short.

Young workers are in the highest risk category for workplace accidents because of the way they process, understand and store information differently to adults

The neural pathways of young people under 25 are not yet fully connected. As a result, they tend to process information with the amygdala, the part of the brain associated with emotions, impulses and instinctive behaviours.

This means that, at this stage in their development, young workers don’t process and retain information with the same level of judgement, awareness and consideration that an adult might, when faced with a potentially unsafe situation.

Using our experience to reduce injuries and incidents involving young workers

Throughout our 65 plus years of operations, Programmed has gathered unique insights about how young workers learn information on the job and their safety behaviours.

We have harnessed this knowledge and developed a new series of supervisor guides, induction videos and other material to ensure that we educate and protect our young workers.

With the full support of our customers, all new employees under 21 will see a couple of short new videos as a part of their induction process. The videos strongly demonstrate the importance of ‘speaking up’ and asking if they are unsure. These simple yet powerful messages are universal and will serve this group well over a long period of time.

Young workers don’t process and retain information with the same level of judgement, awareness and consideration that an adult might when faced with a potentially unsafe situation.

The other key part in helping our young people to stay safe is the vital support our supervisors and managers provide to our young workers on a daily basis.

As such, we developed a training and information package for our customer’s supervisors and managers. It includes a booklet summarising what we now know about young people’s learning and how best to supervise and support them.  For example, the guide includes advice on the supervision required for tasks, ranging from direct (close task-based supervision) to indirect supervision (routine oversight of the work being performed).

The safety of our people is our number one priority at Programmed and our young workers are no exception. By taking steps to help them learn on the job and instil them with the correct safety behaviours, we will make huge steps towards our goal of Zero Harm.

Looking to improve your safety programs for managing young workers? Talk to our safety consultants today about whether our Young Worker Management Guide could be the right tool for you. 

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