New And vulnerable workers

Who is considered a new or vulnerable worker?

This information is for you if you are:

  • a young worker aged under 24 years - You can also find information about Young Workers here
  • a migrant or visa worker, particularly where English is not your first language
  • starting a new job
  • changing careers
  • re-entering the workforce after a break
  • taking on a new role or task for the same employer
  • a person conducting a business or undertaking engaging workers who are new to a job or task and/or young or otherwise especially vulnerable due to age or cultural, linguistic and other potential barriers to experiencing health and safety at work.

'Workers' could be working permanently or casually, full or part time and include:

  • contractors or subcontractors
  • an employee of a labour hire company
  • an apprentice or trainee
  • a student gaining work experience or as part of a structured workplace learning program
  • an outworker
  • a volunteer.

New and young workers statistically have a much higher likelihood of being injured at work. Impacting factors include:

  • the worker is unfamiliar with the job and working environment
  • new workers wishing to make a good impression may not want to be seen as unintelligent or difficult by asking questions or making requests
  • language barriers for migrant and visa workers may make it necessary to modify the manner in which instructions are given and consultation sought.

Worker rights

A person conducting a business or undertaking is responsible for your work safety and risks it may pose to your health. You have a legal right to refuse to do work that you think is unsafe. You must however, tell your supervisor of this situation and remain available to carry out suitable alternative work.

A person conducting a business or undertaking is responsible for making sure your workplace is as safe as is reasonably practicable. This means that your employer must identify potential hazards and then take steps to eliminate or reduce the risk that those hazards pose to people's safety.

A person conducting a business or undertaking cannot ask you to sign or agree to anything that removes their duty to keep you safe at work.

A person conducting a business or undertaking has a responsibility to talk to you about work safety and allow you to contribute to creating a safer and healthier workplace.

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