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Involving young workers in OSH: best practice

December 12, 2013

A new report by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) has highlighted the importance of engaging younger workers in occupational safety and health (OSH). The document suggests that this could be a powerful tool when it comes to strengthening workplace safety culture and performance.

It revealed three main tasks that need to be completed in order to enable young people to get on-board with OSH. The first stage is to engage them in the area and then empower them, and finally allow them to have a voice that is heard, according to the report.

Furthermore, it added that it is imperative that the younger generation are given a safe and healthy job that is within their capabilities. This often constitutes giving them proper and comprehensive training and supervising them while they complete this. 

It's important they are actively engaged during this process in order for them to take on-board and cooperate with the teachings and the wider safety culture.

According to the report, this goes much further than simply providing young people with a handbook on the topic and educators must have a far more comprehensive approach if they want young people to engage.

By doing this, it will not only develop their knowledge and understanding in the areas but also allow them to be much more competent and confident workers. This is imperative as young people will be the generation that carries forward the knowledge to become tomorrow's 'health and safety champions', states the report.

To complete this, training must include both communication and empowerment. For effective communication to take place there must be the environment for a two-way dialogue where young people feel as though their opinions are being heard. Only when this happens will they be able to engage and become interested in the process.

Empowerment must give young workers the confidence to challenge people who may be more experienced than them but also allow them to recognise their various responsibilities. 

By combining these two important training areas, young workers will learn about the basics of risk prevention. Ideally, this should be done while they are still in education at either college or school. This will give the workplace a foundation to build on when the person arrives in a professional environment.

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