Young workers' rights and responsibilities

Health and safety at work is the responsibility of both the employer and employee. There are things that employers must do and things employees must do to make the workplace a safer place.

Employer rights and responsibilities

Employers must:

  • Provide a safe and healthy workplace for all employees, including those undertaking work experience or structured workplace learning programs. This means they must remove any risks to health and safety of employees, as far as is reasonably practicable. This includes protecting them from both physical and psychological workplace hazards, such as slippery floors, lifting heavy loads, faulty machinery, bullying, violence, fatigue and work-related stress. If it isn't reasonably practicable to eliminate the risks, employers must reduce them as far as reasonably practicable
  • Provide training to:
    • show employees how to carry out the job safely and how to recognise and report hazards on the job
    • provide and show employees how to use the necessary equipment and how to safely wear/use any protective gear, such as gloves, safety footwear and goggles
    • explain health and safety policies and procedures
    • help employees get to know the workplace - the layout and where things are as well as introducing them to their immediate supervisor, health and safety representative and workmates
    • Provide supervision by someone who knows about the job and the health and safety requirements
    • Talk about health and safety. This includes:
      • asking employees and health and safety representatives when identifying workplace hazards and how to control them
      • discussing new equipment when it is introduced into a work area
      • discussions at team or toolbox meetings. 

Employee rights and responsibilities

It's not just up to the employer to keep their employees safe. Employees have responsibilities and rights too.

Employees have to take reasonable care for their own health and safety, and that of their workmates. Employees also have to cooperate with their employer to make the workplace safe.

This includes:

  • following workplace health and safety policies and procedures
  • using risk control measures provided at work
  • attending workplace health and safety training
  • reporting hazards and risks in the workplace
  • asking for help or training if they don't know how to do a task.

Employees are also entitled to have someone represent them on workplace health and safety matters - a health and safety representative (HSR). If the workplace does not have an HSR, any worker can ask the boss to set up a designated work group (DWG). Once a DWG is established, an HSR needs to be elected.

Concerned about OHS at work?

Any worker who is concerned about their health and safety, or that of a workmate, should talk to their employer, supervisor and/or the HSR. Those who are doing work experience or structured workplace learning you could talk to their teacher about health and safety issues.

Workers who need more help or information about health and safety should call WorkSafe Victoria on 1800 136 (toll free). Callers can remain anonymous.

Find out more

Go to:

Young workers (PDF) for a safety tips fact sheet

Young workers for information about legal duties and young workers' rights and responsibilities.

Worker Rights & Responsibilities for a brief summary of the legal rights and responsibilities of employees under the OHS law and their rights to compensation if they are injured.

Employer Rights & Responsibilities for a brief summary of the legal rights and responsibilities of employers under the OHS law and the obligations of employers to take out worker's compensation insurance and manage any claims that arise out of the workplace.

Youth Central has lots of information about young worker rights and entitlements as a worker.