Young worker safety

From yesterday’s Canberra Times

The employer of a young man killed in a workplace accident on the weekend has issued a statement saying it is “deeply saddened” by the tragedy and has launched its own investigation into how the incident happened. Concreter Ben Catanzariti was working at a Kingston Foreshore construction site on Saturday morning when he was struck by a 39m boom and died at the scene. Two other workers were injured, one badly. Workers were using a truck-mounted concrete boom pump to pour concrete on the ground floor of the new Dockside apartment development on Eastlake Parade in Kingston when the pouring boom broke away from the truck and fell to the ground. READ MORE

Here then is a very poignant article by the late George Robotham 

Enjoy more of his work HERE.       More info re Young worker safety HERE

Young worker safety

I recently had to give some safety advice to an organisation with young workers. The following is the result of a Google search that made sense to me.

Working with young people brings unique safety challenges to the OHS professional, supervisors and managers. Workers 15-24 have a 75% greater chance of being killed on the job, often their accidents happen in the first 2 weeks of employment. Work in construction, using motor vehicles and moving machinery is particularly hazardous to young people.

They are still developing physically and mentally, lack experience and are unfamiliar with the demands of work. They usually will not speak up and question what they are asked to do. They are generally unsure of their OHS rights and responsibilities. Young workers can find it difficult to fully grasp risks so they may make impulsive decisions. For some young people giving them something physical and / or with their hands to do is a better option than activities that require a lot of thought or are otherwise theoretical.

Although the brain reaches its full adult weight by the age of 21, it continues to develop for several years. In fact, a study done by the National Institutes of Health found that the region of brain that inhibits risky behaviour does not fully form until age 25. This is the final stage of brain development.

The sleep hormone melatonin is produced later at night in young people making it harder to wind down at night and results in a struggle to wake up in the morning.

Adolescent behaviour can be associated with risk taking and recklessness. Some young workers will want to impress and this can lead to risky behaviour. Young males are more prone to make aggressive responses to a range of situations. Many young people are unsure of themselves and will not reveal their inner selves in group situations, working one on one with them can be productive however .They will often not reveal their uncertainty about instructions they have been given. Some younger workers are more prone to fatigue than older workers. Alcohol and / or drugs can be a factor.

An important message is to advise them to ask their supervisor if they are unsure of any aspect of the work they are asked to do. If they think the work is hazardous refer to the supervisor and refuse to do it if there is no satisfactory conclusion. They need to know they should not get in trouble for not doing hazardous work.

Get them to write down instructions or use a documented safe working procedure.

Be very specific in your instructions to young people.

Induction training and general training needs special emphasis for young people, they will not understand common workplace terms and equipment, detailed checks for understanding are necessary.

Supervision of young people also requires special emphasis. One must allocate appropriate tasks in line with their experience.

Performance feedback and using positive adult role models is particularly important

Allocating a coach or mentor to work with them can be productive.

Source-Safework Victoria, Workcover N.S.W.

George Robotham

George Robotham

George was a Legend in the Safety World who passed away in Sept 2013 but left us with a great legacy
George Robotham
I have worked in OHS for most of my working life, many years in the mining industry including over 10 years in a corporate OHS role with BHP. Since leaving the mining industry I have worked in a variety of safety roles with a variety of employers, large & small, in a variety of industries. I was associated with my first workplace fatality at age 21, the girl involved was young, intelligent, vivacious and friendly. Such a waste! I was the first on the scene and tried to comfort her and tend to her injuries. She said to me “George, please do not let me die” We put her on the aerial ambulance to Rockhampton base hospital where she died the next day. I do not mind telling you that knocked me around for awhile. Since then I have helped my employers cope with the aftermath of 12 fatalities and 2 other life-altering events. The section "Why do Occupational Health & Safety" provides further detail but in summary, poor safety is simply very expensive and also has a massive humanitarian cost. My qualifications include a certificate I.V. in Workplace Training and Assessment, a Diploma in Frontline Management, a Diploma in Training & Assessment Systems, a Bachelor of Education (Adult & Workplace Education) , a Grad. Cert. in Management of Organisational Change and a Graduate Diploma in Occupational Hazard Management. I am currently studying towards a Masters in Business Leadership. Up until recently I had been a Chartered Fellow of the Safety Institute of Australia for 10 years and a member for about 30 years. My interest is in non-traditional methods of driving organisational change in OHS and I have what I believe is a healthy dis-respect for many common approaches to OHS Management and OHS Training. I hold what I believe is a well-founded perception that many of the things safety people and management do in safety are “displacement activities” (Displacement activities are things we do, things we put a lot of energy into, but which when we examine them closely there is no valid reason for doing them). My managerial and leadership roles in OHS have exposed me to a range of management techniques that are relevant to Business Improvement. In particular I am a strong supporter of continuous improvement and quality management approaches to business. I believe leadership is the often forgotten key to excellence in most aspects of life. I hold the Australian Defence Medal and am a J.P.(Qualified). I have many fond memories of my time playing Rugby Union when I was a young bloke.

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