Young, vulnerable and uncertain: Young workers' perceptions of work health and safety

L. Clarkson, V. Blewett, S. Rainbird, J. L. Paterson, H. Etherton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Young workers are at an increased risk of work place injury, and are less likely to report hazards or injuries, or apply for workers' compensation even though they are over-represented in workers' compensation statistics in comparison with their older peers. 

OBJECTIVE: To identify young workers' perceptions of work health and safety (WHS), why and how they report (or do not report) hazards and injuries, and examine where they source WHS information. This paper reports on the first stage of a larger, mixed methods study on WHS and young workers in South Australia. 

METHODS: A total of 226 young South Australian workers aged between 12 and 25 years completed an online survey. Data were analyzed using chi-squared analysis for categorical variables and t-tests where the dependent variable was continuous. 

RESULTS: Three quarters of young workers identified stress at work, not being trained to do the job, fatigue from work and lifting heavy things at work as WHS issues, although not necessarily as issues that they have personally experienced. Most young workers obtained information about WHS through their employer although a sizable proportion sourced this information from friends and social media. Young workers identified that they lacked confidence to report WHS issues. When they did report issues, many young workers reported these issues to their parents, despite identifying that their parents were often unable to help.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings contribute to our understanding of young workers' perceptions of work health and safety. Although young workers could identify their concerns about particular health and safety related issues at work, they lacked the confidence to report their concerns and had limited information about where to go for help. The research suggests that there is a need to empower young people to report WHS concerns to their employer and provide structures and processes that encourage reporting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-123
Number of pages11
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • injury reporting
  • online survey
  • training
  • vulnerable workers


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