Australia is in the middle of one of its largest ever labour shortages. There is no doubt that many of you are struggling to fill vacancies for experienced staff. As reported by the Australian Financial Review1, almost one-third of businesses in Australia are having difficulty finding staff. This presents a safety challenge with inexperienced or young workers who will not be familiar with the risks and hazards related to their role.
New and inexperienced employees may be eager to prove themselves and unaware of the importance of workplace health and safety requirements. They may take more risks to improve their productivity, take a shortcut, or follow some other non-established safety procedure or protocol. They may also be less aware of their rights and responsibilities in relation to safety and feel less comfortable notifying their employer about hazards or unsafe conditions. All of these can raise the risk of injury.
To help mitigate hazards and reduce risks among new or inexperienced workers there are clear steps that you can take:
Before starting work, new employees need to go through a safety orientation induction program that introduces your safety culture to them. This should cover topics like highlighting their safety rights and responsibilities, explaining how to identify and report hazards, how to locate health and safety information, and the basics on reporting injuries and investigating accidents. New employees need to be actively encouraged to participate in your workplace safety culture.
You should provide new employees with safety training that covers:
Use a buddy system where you pair an inexperienced worker with an experienced one. Providing a buddy can help new workers feel more comfortable and learn quicker. It also builds confidence and
helps integrate them better into your safety culture.
Not all new employees feel comfortable to ask questions or raise concerns. Conducting regular check ins with them will hopefully encourage them to speak up rather than nod their head and say they understand when they don’t.
Under Victoria's health and safety laws, employers must provide and maintain a working environment for their employees that is safe and free of risks to health, so far as reasonably practicable. This includes both physical and psychological risks, such as work-related stress or customer abuse.
Responsibilities of employers include:
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