Young Queensland workers continue to be injured or killed at work at a disproportionately high rate. Between January 2008 and November 2012, 30 young worker fatalities were reported in Queensland.
Young men are much more likely to be fatally injured at work than women, with these incidents more likely to occur in high risk industries such as construction (10 fatalities), agricultural, forestry and fishing (eight fatalities) and manufacturing (four fatalities).
There were 8110 workers' compensation claims accepted for serious injuries (claims involving five or more days off work) to young workers in Queensland between 2010-12.There were 2.5 times more claims accepted for young men than young women.
Young workers have a unique risk profile and are at greater risk of work-related injury than older workers. This is likely to be due to their inexperience in the workplace and their physical, social, emotional and intellectual development.
Safe Work Australia reports that young workers have a comparatively lower cost of claims than older workers but that they have the highest rates of workplace injury of any age group. The latency period for musculoskeletal disorders and other work injuries and illnesses may result in injuries developed by young workers being reported against older worker age categories.
Engaging with young workers to improve health and safety is challenging. This is because they are difficult to reach, unlikely to seek health and safety information and have limited control in their workplaces. Additionally, young workers are often in positions (seasonal, casual and temporary work, apprenticeships and traineeships) where the risk of losing work or ease of changing work means they are even less likely to speak up or seek help on health and safety matters.
Young workers will be targeted by all of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland's advisory, audit and awareness campaigns this year.
For information on keeping young workers safe visit www.worksafe.qld.gov.au or call the WHS Infoline on 1300 369 915.