Risk Factors of Safety & Health at Work for Young Workers

June 12, 20191:09 pm1162 views

It is a common perception that young people have more energy and stamina that makes them able to work faster than the older ones. But do you know that young individuals have a higher risk of workplace safety and health?

Young individuals are more likely to be involved in serious accidents than older adults in the workplace. Poor working conditions contribute to the highest factor of this problem. According to surveys from OSHA and ILO, the lack of experience and often lack of both physical and psychological maturity are also the biggest reasons for workplace injury for young employees. Furthermore, there are other factors that many employers are not aware of regarding the safety and health of young individuals in the workplace. Those risk factors are:

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Emotional development – Young workers want to be seen as competent and independent. That is why they might avoid speaking about workplace dangers for fear of being perceived as troublemakers or complainers. They also have a desire to fit in the society which increases the risk-taking behaviour at work.

Unstable job – The high level of global youth unemployment leads to high concentrations of young workers to accept informal, temporary, and non-standard employment. These kinds of a job have a higher risk of not properly supervised which means workers tend to lack representation and awareness of their rights at work.

Education levels – ILO mentioned that awareness of workplace safety is positively influenced by education. For example, young employees with higher education levels tend to understand workplace safety better than those with less education level. Thusly, younger workers with lower education levels tend to suffer more from a workplace accident.

Lack of skills and training – It is widely accepted that younger people joining the workforce for the first time will not have the same skills and experience as older workers. So, the risk of workplace injury is predicted to be four times higher during the first month in a new job than it is after 12 months on the job.

Overlapping vulnerabilities – ILO report showed that factors such as gender, disability, and migration status combine with age to increase the risk of occupational injuries. For instance, 70 percent migrant workers under the age of 30 are in the highest work-related accident rates.

Physical development – In terms of the physical body, young workers especially adolescence are still developing physically. This means they might experience a more extreme reaction to hazardous work such as work with toxic materials. They are also more likely to injure themselves handling equipment and machinery designed for adults.


Estimation based on economic cost showed that workplace injury can cost up to 4 percent global GDP which equals to 3 trillion in US dollars. Poor safety and health also affect human which cost their life and lifetime career opportunities. Therefore, providing sustainable and good work conditions for every worker, especially young individuals who are still developing physically and mentally, should be company’s primary concern.

To help you improve sustainable and decent work for young labourer, you can do the following tips.

  1. Involving young people to take action to protect themselves and their peers at work.
  2. Improving data of occupational injury and illness to allow targeted and evidence-based action for eliminating and creating better workplace condition for workers, especially the young ones. Additionally, data analysis should be taken carefully of such factors as gender, age, and economic sector.
  3. Expanding legal protections to cover workers in an informal economy is also an effective way to protect young workers.
  4. Tripartite collaboration (governments, employers, and workers) with your organisation is highly recommended to work together for sustainable progress on safety and health at work.
  5. Providing job-specific occupational safety and health training in preparation for employment and at the outset of employment.

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