Young workers have a higher rate of injury in the workplace, according to a factsheet published by the NSW Better Regulation Division. From 2011 to 2014, over 45,000 young workers were injured while at work. This rate may actually be 6 times higher due to young workers underreporting work injuries.
This is cause for concern, as injuries in the workplace have been found to precipitate mental illness. People aged between 18 and 24 years old area are a particularly ‘at risk’ group as they have the highest prevalence of mental illness of any age group. These factors have motivated a push to raise awareness of the mental wellbeing of young workers.
The NSW Government has led the way in a renewed focus on the mental health and wellbeing of young workers. Though its Young Workers and Mental Health Project, the NSW Government has highlighted a need to educated young workers on their rights in the workplace and the negative impact of workplace injuries, bullying and workplace violence on mental health.
This project has recommended a package of strategies aimed at helping young workers address psychological risk factors in the workplace, to develop coping tools and, if necessary, to disclose mental health issues. The project also highlights a need to raise awareness among the parents, employers and teachers of young workers. These individuals form part of the support network around a young worker and may provide another channel for a struggling worker to access vital resources.
Employers are obliged by law to provide a safe and healthy work environment and to provide support and make reasonable adjustments for employees. As a particularly vulnerable group, employers should look out for their young workers. Failure to fulfil these obligations would not put your employees in a vulnerable position, but would leave you at risk of grievous legal consequences.
To further understand your obligations and the steps that you can take to assist young employees with mental wellbeing, contact the NRA on 1800 Retail (738 245).