Young workers who take foolish risks at work and new workers who lack experience increase the likelihood of workplace injuries to themselves and others. A young worker refers to anyone under the age of 25. A new worker is a person of any age who has little experience working at their current job.

What makes young and new workers risky?

It is understandable that anyone lacking on-the-job experience is going to be less adept at a job than workers who have spent many hours in the workplace. Just being unfamiliar with the work environment puts new workers and visitors to the workplace at risk of injury. Many accidents that are blamed on inexperience could be prevented with proper training and supervision. New workers often feel a great deal of pressure to quickly “get up to speed” on their new job. The anxiety combined with less than optimal training and supervision often results in unqualified people trying to fend for themselves. They may be hesitant to ask questions because they do not want to appear unqualified or unintelligent.

Lowering the risks associated with young workers

The summer months are a popular time for students and recent graduates to find employment. Young workers have less work experience and a different level of emotional and cognitive development than older workers. They may attempt to complete work quickly by taking shortcuts and could fail to grasp the serious consequences of workplace dangers.

The United States Department of Labor has some suggestions on how employers can provide a safe and mutually beneficial experience for young workers and the company that employs them. Employers should be prepared to provide more supervision and training time for younger workers. There are several outreach resources available through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to help reduce injuries commonly associated with young, inexperienced workers.

The OSHA Alliance Program

With the OSHA Alliance Program, professional trade associations, employers, and educational institutions collaborate on projects to promote young worker safety and to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths. Young workers can gain valuable knowledge and experience in their chosen profession while employers benefit from enthusiastic workers who feel an improved appreciation for the company providing them with employment.