August 04 2015


Tragically Western Australia was subject to an electrical fatality during February when a trade’s assistant appears to have come into contact with live wires in a roof-space and was electrocuted.

Although in this case, the worker was training within the electrical industry, many other trades (plumbers, painters, insulation installers, air conditioning workers, etc) will be required to access areas where electrical wiring is present during the course of their work and as such are all frequently exposed to the risk of electric shock or electrocution.

This incident highlights the need to be overly cautious and vigilant with regards to the supervision, training and guidance provided to new and young workers. This area is also one of WorkSafe’s key priority areas, due to the fact that historically, young people are involved in many workplace incidents/injuries.

Below are some ideas that can assist you in managing safe systems of work for your trainees and by implementing, will ensure the risks of injury/incidents that they are exposed to are reduced:

  • Have an understanding as ‘the employer’ of your Occupational Safety and Health responsibilities.
  • Identify the hazards and subsequent risks that are present at your workplaces and your personnel are exposed to (suggest document them in a risk register).
  • Match trainees and apprentices to tasks that are relevant to the training that they are undertaking and clearly define what they can and cannot do – don’t expect a 1st year to be able to competently carry out a task that would generally not be provided until a final year apprentice for example.
  •  Ensure you conduct company and site inductions with new and young workers.
  • Ensure they hold the appropriate construction safety awareness training (white card).
  • Constantly supervise trainees and apprentices during their work.
  • Have new and young workers actively participate in the consultation process of compiling JSA’s or SWMS’ and satisfy yourself that they have a thorough understanding of the content.
  • Ensure other training that may be required for the task has been completed (working at heights, etc).
  • Clarify who will provide any equipment, including personal protective equipment, to enable the apprentices or trainees to do the work safely. If equipment is brought into your workplace, ensure that it meets OSH standards.
  • Support and encourage apprentice and trainees rights to be represented in relation to OSH issues.
  • Establish an open communication process and encourage workers to participate in workplace consultative arrangements. Introduce apprentices and trainees to safety and health representatives if applicable and the person with OSH management responsibility in the area where they will work.
  • Verify that workers understand the OSH requirements of your workplace.
  • Encourage apprentices and trainees to participate in hazard identification and management specific to the tasks they are performing.
  • Have a written agreement or job description with the worker that clearly outlines OSH expectations and responsibilities, including the channels to quickly communicate information.
  • Have a documented system for managing safety (Safety Management Plan), including staff trained in OSH.
  • Ensure you have appropriate workers’ compensation insurance and fulfil your duty to provide return-to-work pathways and rehabilitation to any injured workers.

NOTE: It is irrelevant whether the trainee or apprentice is a direct employee or sourced through a Group training scheme (or on work experience) – you are the person in control of the workplace that they are working at and as such, hold the balance of the primary duty of care for them.

Trainees and Apprentices are the next generation of tradesmen to improve and better our industries. Train and supervise them well, so when the time comes, you will be assured of a competent, effective and efficient tradesman that you can rely for years to come.

For additional assistance on new and young workers or any other Workplace Health and Safety matter, please do not hesitate to contact Safety Solutions WA on 9417 7548 or