Workplace injuries are common among young people and most workers under 25 have been bullied or harassed on the job, a new survey by the ACT's peak union body says.
The Unions ACT report published on Monday found 40 per cent of young workers said they had been injured at work in the past year, and the same amount hadn't been told what to do if they'd been hurt.
Another 70 per cent of people aged 15-25 told the survey they had been bullied or harassed at work — the same figure as in last year's report — and the main perpetrators were their bosses (30 per cent) and co-workers (23 per cent).
Unions ACT randomly surveyed 223 people for the report, Breaking Point: Young Worker Safety in the ACT, and used the findings to call for greater regulation of businesses employing young people and new penalties for those ignoring the law.
The union body's secretary, Alex White, said a high percentage of young people were exposed to unsafe work and the risk of being injured.
Most of the survey's respondents worked in retail and sales (36.9 per cent) and hospitality and tourism (23 per cent), over half were employed on a casual basis and another 20 per cent were employed informally through labour hire, an Australian Business Number or a rolling short-term contract.
"The biggest challenge we've got is not that the ACT is worse than other jurisdictions, although it's bad, it's that people don't believe it's a problem and consequently are not willing to take the steps that are needed to protect young workers," Mr White said.
Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said WorkSafe ACT was auditing young worker safety in Canberra and the government would consider the findings of a Legislative Assembly inquiry into insecure work in the ACT.
An advisory committee on apprentice safety and young workers would also consider and advise the government on worker safety, Ms Stephen-Smith said.
The Unions ACT report also found nearly a third of young women had experienced gender discrimination at work, and that workers surveyed were unaware of their rights or of WorkSafe.
Unions ACT recommended new penalties for exploiting young workers and record-keeping failures, a certificate system for employers of five or more young people, and mandatory training for supervisors.
It also called for greater power for the Community Services Directorate to investigate, and for the ACT government to fund a union-developed workplace safety awareness program.
The latest report's findings come after a Unions ACT survey last year reported seven out of 10 young workers felt bullied or harassed at work while one in two felt they had been forced to work in an unsafe environment.
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