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Occupational fatigue and other health and safety issues for young Australian workers : an exploratory mixed methods study
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Jessica Paterson, Larissa Clarkson, Sophia Rainbird, Hayley Etherton, Verna Blewett
Youth are vulnerable to sleep loss and fatigue due to biological, social and psychological factors. However, there are few studies addressing the risk that sleep loss and fatigue pose for youth in the workplace. The aim of this study was to explore work health and safety (WHS) issues for young workers and develop strategies and solutions for improved WHS outcomes, with a focus on issues related to fatigue, using a mixed-method, multi-stage approach. Participants either completed a survey (n=212) or took part in focus groups (n=115) addressing WHS for young workers, or attended a Future Inquiry Workshop (n=29) where strategies for improving youth WHS were developed. Fatigue was identified as a significant problem by the majority of young workers and was associated with unpredictable working time arrangements, precarious employment, high workload, working overtime and limited ability to self-advocate. Participants identified six key areas for action to improve WHS outcomes for young workers; 1) develop expertise, 2) give young workers a voice, 3) improve education and training, 4) build stakeholder engagement, 5) increase employer awareness of WHS responsibilities and, 6) improve processes for employers to manage and monitor WHS outcomes. The application of these directives to fatigue is discussed.