Young workers, death and injury

Young Australian workers between the ages of 15 and 24 are at risk of being injured at work and hospitalised. Males are more likely to be injured than females.

Young workers include young people (15 – 24 years of age) who are in full time work, as well as those who combine work and study – about 36% of young people (ABS 2007).

In 2005 – 2006, young workers experienced the highest work-related injury or illness rates. The 2009 – 2010 statistics showed a decline in the work-related injury and illness rate in this age group.

However, young workers tend to under-report injuries and work-related illnesses. It has been estimated that only 50% of young people injured at work are likely to make a claim (WorkSafe Victoria, 2011) so the statistics may not be as good as they appear. Reasons for this may include being busy and not having the time to stop work, believing the injury to be their fault, or not receiving support from their manager when they had previously reported an injury.

The most common physical injuries for young workers are cuts from sharp implements and burns from hot oil.

Stress from dealing with abusive customers is another OHS issue commonly encountered by young people, particularly young women. Situations with abusive customers or employees become more stressful if a young worker asks for assistance from management but doesn’t receive it.

Illness and disease rates for young people are lower than for other age groups. This is not surprising as many work-related diseases take a number of years to appear (e.g. asbestosis, chronic back injuries). The need to prevent these types of injuries and diseases developing remains especially important for young people.

The rates of illness and injury in young workers varies across industry areas. The main injuries sustained by young workers are musculoskeletal injuries and open wounds. These are usually caused by hitting objects, body stressing and slips, trips and falls (WorkSafe Victoria 2011).


Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2007. Education and Work, Australia. May 2007: Cat. No. 6227.0. Canberra: ABS.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2006. Work-related Injuries. Cat. No. 6324.0. Canberra: ABS.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2010. Work-related Injuries 2009-10. Cat. No. 6324.0. Canberra: ABS.

Your Health and safety guide to Managing young workers


Australian Safety and Compensation Council, Compendium of Workers Compensation Statistics

This annual publication provides a general overview of work-related injury and disease among employees in Australia. Statistical data on age groups can be obtained. Tables from this report could be used for exercises in interpreting data.

WorkSafe Victoria – Young Workers

WorkSafe Victoria has information for young workers, their employers and teachers.