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Green Hands for Green Hands

January 18, 2012

Risk Management of Young, New and Inexperienced Workers

Young, new and inexperienced workers with their new roles and responsibilities are at a disadvantage when it comes to worksite hazards.  Being unaware of the hazards or lacking the competency to manage the risks from their associated duties and surrounding work environment increases the potential and severity of incidents and injuries.

"Young workers are at a much higher risk of injury than workers of any other age group.  More than half of the serious injuries and fatalities involving workers aged 15 to 24 occur during the first six months on the job.  And almost 20 per cent occur during the first month on the job". (Worksafe BC, New and Young Worker Orientation and Training Requirements FAQ)

Identifying the increased risk young, new and inexperienced workers are exposed to is a fundamental element of hazard assessment. As such it needs to be considered when creating a safety management system for the organization. The workers potential for injury is increased as they are new to their assigned tasks and especially unaware of the hazards. This situation of unconscious incompetence can be managed with two elements of the safety management system.

Effective orientation of a worker to the company, worksite, the worksite hazards, and the hazards of their required tasks raises the worker's awareness of the risks. This enables them to make conscious decisions to prevent incidents.  Further education and on the job training prepare the worker to hone their understanding of the hazards associated with their tasks and their working environment. With orientation and training programs, a worker can move from an unconscious incompetent state to a worker that is consciously competent.

This transition, however, requires leadership and identification of the worker.

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