Young workers

The ACT Government is focused on improving and strengthening safety practices across the ACT in commercial and small business operations, particularly workers who are overrepresented in injury statistics and working in high risk industries. A proactive approach to the safety and wellbeing of workers, especially young or vulnerable workers and those entering the industry through apprenticeships is a matter of importance for the government.

WorkSafe ACT has identified significant risk to youngworkers by analysing reported incidents, injuries and complaints. Attributing to these injuries are related to their inexperience in workplaces within high-risk industries making them more vulnerable to work accidents compared to other areas of work.

As a regulator for work safety and health, WorkSafe ACT is leading this initiative and is working collaboratively with stakeholders on the Apprentices and Young Workers Campaign.

Training

Induction and training

Businesses, large, medium or small, must conduct induction training. A Person Conducting Business or Undertaking (PCBU) or person with management or control of the workplace is required to ensure that every worker receives adequate training, information and instruction. See the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011, Section 39 on Provision of information, training and instruction.

New workers, young and mature, will need special attention when starting out at a new workplace. To help workers understand the new work environment, tasks and expectations, an induction program is essential. Induction into a workplace could include information such as emergency evacuation procedures, first aid, amenities, introduction to team members, introduction to the health and safety representative and any other information that would assist a new person to become familiar with their new surroundings.

Apprentices and young workers are often at risk due to their lack of experience and awareness of risks. Employers and PCBUs are reminded that new apprentices, young workers and trainees will need training and close supervision to ensure that good safety practices are adhered. Employers play a pivotal role in influencing workers’ attitude to health and safety and they shape the work culture and environment as safe and healthy.

In the construction industry, mandatory induction training must take place for all high risk work and other tasks at regular intervals such as tool box talk and/or pre start meeting that includes:

  • all persons working on a construction site must complete WHS induction training before they are allowed onto a construction site.
  • the mandatory construction industry WHS induction training must be provided by a registered training organisation (RTO). The National Code of Practice For Induction For Construction has a sample checklist.
  • the possession of a construction induction card at all times whilst on a construction site. The only exception to this rule is where you have made an application to for a card and have not received a decision on that application. In these cases you must keep the statement of attainment issued by the RTO in your possession. The RTO will be required to see evidence of your identity before you undertake the course. To apply for a general construction white card, vist the General construction induction card (White Card) page.
  • if you hold a construction induction card issued in another State or Territory, there is generally no need to undergo further induction training or to transfer the interstate card to an ACT construction induction card. Further details can be found on the General construction induction card (White Card) page.
  • all construction workers in the ACT must complete the Asbestos Awareness Training Course 1067NAT as part of mandatory training.

Supervision

Effective supervision for apprentices and young workers is crucial. Apprentices and young workers may be at more risk of workplace injury due to their lack of experience, awareness and understanding of hazards in their new work environment. Persons conducting business or undertaking or the nominated supervisor must provide adequate level of information, training, instruction and supervision for workers to safely undertake or complete their duties. For apprentices and less experienced workers, this will mean a higher level of direction and supervision than an experienced worker. Some guidance notes have been developed to assist supervisors for this specific reason. Levels of supervision required for 1st Year through to 4th Year apprenticeships in some Cert III programs are also specified in these guidelines for apprentices working on gas installation, electrical installation and plumbing and drainage.

Employers

The following pages provide information, support and advice on a range of funded training initiatives and the stakeholders that deliver these programs.

For all forms relevant to employers please visit the VET Admin section of the Skills Canberra website.

Employers should frequently visit the news section of the Skills Canberra website for updated information on training initiatives in the ACT and nationally, as well as the VET Admin section of the website for all the relevant tools you require as an employer. You can also subscribe to receive notifications of updates and news items on by completing the subscribe form on the Skills Canberra website.

Employers are encouraged to visit My Skills. My Skills is a website designed for employers, individuals, students and job seekers and provides them with information on training and registered training organisations (RTOs) that best suit their needs.

Individuals

The following pages provide information, support and advice on a range of funded training initiatives and the stakeholders that deliver these programs.

For any further information on Skills Canberra and the ACT Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate please visit the Skills Canberra website.

Individuals are encouraged to visit My Skills. My Skills is a website designed for individuals, students, job seekers and employers and provides them with information on training and registered training organisations (RTOs) that best suit their needs.

Training providers

The following pages provide information, support and advice on a range of funded training initiatives, contractual agreements and their requirements as well as accreditation and registration.

For all forms relevant to training providers please visit the VET Admin section of the website.

Training providers should frequently visit the news section of the Skills Canberra website for updated information on training initiatives in the ACT and nationally, as well as the VET Admin section of the website for all the relevant tools you require as a training provider.

You can also subscribe to receive notifications of updates and news items by sending an email to skills@act.gov.au.

Apprentice and Young Workers Program

WorkSafe ACT’s primary function is to administer and regulate the work health and safety laws in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) through a mixture of education and compliance activities.

ACT workers’ compensation claims and work health and safety (WHS) notifiable incidents are a data source commonly used to look at injury trends to consider safety performance. It has been identified that there is a significant risk arising in relation to young workers, trainees and apprenticeships based on reported injuries and incidents, stakeholder information and complaints received in relation to the supervision and alleged mistreatment of young workers.

While apprentices are considered as a primary focus of this audit, it is considered that other young or vulnerable workers are also susceptible to poor work safety outcomes.

The safety risks that young workers are potentially exposed to relate to abuse, mistreatment, harassment and bullying in the workplace. Those sectors where apprentices are more likely to have been exposed to these safety issues include electrical, plumbing, hospitality, hairdressing, automotive, construction trades and other retail including food outlets.

In response, the ACT Work Safety Commissioner launched a safety and compliance program to include a mixture of engagement, education and compliance activities in respect to the work health and safety of young and vulnerable workers. The two main components on this campaign is ‘raising awareness’ and compliance audits to cover supervision, training and general WHS awareness such as injury reporting.

In 2016-17, 77 per cent of all lost time injuries where vulnerable workers. An injury is considered a "lost time injury" if the worker received an incapacity payment under the claim. A worker is considered a "vulnerable worker" if it is an apprentice, trainee or 24 years or younger at the time of injury. Over the past 3 years the number of lost time injuries has sustained however data suggests that there are at least 6 vulnerable workers injured each day in the Territory. This is based on workers compensation data not including any injuries that may have gone unreported.

Objective

The objective of the program is to provide education and advice to duty holders and the community about their work health and safety rights and responsibilities. Through this safety program we aim to educate the groups listed below in safe work practices relevant to the industry sectors and to ensure compliance in areas such as supervision, workplace induction and training and work health and safety awareness.

  • persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) that host vulnerable workers;
  • managers, leading hands or supervisors; and
  • apprentices, trainees and other young or vulnerable workers.

Methodology

Scope

The program will be divided into several phases relevant to the specific industry and to enable specific high risk areas to be targeted.

The target areas will be:

  • electrical and plumbing
  • construction
  • hospitality workers
  • hairdressing and beauty industry
  • health and community workers
  • automotive.

Due to the potentially large population of work areas to be visited and the number of workers covered, a sample of work places and workers will be selected for each phase. The sample will include a range of small, medium and large businesses selected across Canberra.

The program will involve engagement and education with various Registered Training Organisations (RTO’s), Group Training Organisations (GTOs), and large host employers, and employee or employer associations.

During workplace inspections, target areas will include training, supervision, induction (industry and site if applicable), and associated policy and procedures specifically relating to young workers. For specific licensed trade apprenticeships, joint inspections will be conducted with inspectors from other regulatory areas of Access Canberra. For example, WorkSafe Inspectors will visit the workplaces of electrical apprentices with an authorised inspector from the electrical inspectorate. On some occasions inspectors may attend accompany Skills Canberra Field Officers.

The initial phase of the program will deliver a number of information sessions to RTO’s, GTO’s and large host employers to provide information and advice.

The topics to cover will include:

  • WHS Regulator – WorkSafe ACT (Functions)
  • Inspector role
  • Risks and Statistics for Electrical/ Plumbing Industry
  • Induction (White Card)
  • Site Induction
  • Training
  • Supervision
  • Health and Safety Representatives
  • PCBU
  • Injury Reporting
  • What defines a safe workplace
  • Key Contacts
  • Q and A opportunity

Pre-inspection

Prior to each inspection, contact will be made with the appropriate PCBU to arrange the inspection.

When scheduling the appointment the inspectors will:

  • describe the purpose of the inspection
  • advise proposed timeframe of inspection and location
  • documentation required for visual inspection at the time of the inspection i.e. training certification, induction documentation, Australian Apprentice Training Plan
  • indicate approximate duration of the inspection (depends on size of the site, but estimate approx. one - two hours
  • describe the format of the inspection.

Post-inspection

After each inspection the PCBU will be provided with a written summary sheet detailing the findings and actions to be taken including:

  • reinforce messages on training, induction and associated policy and procedures relating to the supervision of young workers
  • provide copy of the checklist and guidance material
  • offer assistance as needed to resolve any identified issues.

Compliance and enforcement

WorkSafe ACT agreed to harmonised work health and safety laws in 2011 to provide consistent protection for Australian workers. To reduce the regulatory burden and to complement these laws the ACT agreed to the nationally consistent approach to compliance and enforcement through the National Compliance and Enforcement Policy.

The policy sets out the principles that underpin the approach work health and safety regulators will take to monitoring and enforcing compliance with the Work Health and Safety Act and Regulations.

Inspectors have significant powers under work health and safety laws including:

  • requiring answers to questions
  • requiring production of documents
  • seizing items for use as evidence of an offence
  • issuing of improvement, prohibition notice, and infringement notices.

Regulators will commence their intervention using the tools that are most appropriate in the particular circumstances. Some tools, as indicated in this policy, are alternatives while others may be used in combination. Using a range of tools in the lower levels of the pyramid may often achieve compliance without needing to escalate to the more serious levels of sanctions.

During the conduct of the audit, any significant safety breaches identified will be acted upon immediately. Where there is an imminent risk to the safety and welfare of a worker or the community, a Prohibition Notice will be served, this may include failing to supervise. Improvement Notices or Agreed Actions will be issued to provide safe systems of work at the discretion of the Inspector. Infringement Notices will be issued for the following:

  • Failure to Comply with an Improvement Notice
  • PCBU fail to ensure general construction induction training is provided to a worker
  • PCBU fail to have SWMS
  • Failure to have first aid equipment available to workers.

Relevant legislation or documents

Interim reporting

An ongoing status report will be created and maintained outlining the number of site inspections based on industry and include any issues identified and what enforcement action is to be taken.

Final report

A final report will be completed at the end of the program. The report will be an objective/factual record of the audit and its outcomes. This report will used to highlight the current level of compliance, where improvements can be made and what steps WorkSafe ACT will be taking to assist implementation of outcomes.

Click here for the Young Workers Checklist.

Related resources

Explore the following pages under this section to obtain more specific information:

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