Teaching school children a standardised approach to indtroductory safety practices would better prepare them for dealing with risk in the workplace, according to a new survey conducted by the University of Adelaide.

Conducted by a team of occupational health and safety experts from the University’s School of Population Health, the surveyed canvassed 103 public and private secondary schools in South Australia.

The survey concluded tthat although school management is generally supporting of the teaching of safety, teachers responsible for safety education often lack a coherent approach and lack confidence in the topic.

"This research highlights a need for a standard, targeted program for training teachers in this area, and an evidence-based approach to introductory safety education," says the lead author Associate Professor Dino Pisaniello said.

"A number of key issues have come out of this study. For example, the content and delivery of safety education should be tailored to young workers, taking into account factors such as physical and psychosocial characteristics and, importantly, the situations in which young people are likely to work.

"We also believe training activities in schools and industry should be complementary, in order to capitalise on the strengths of both. Such a program will better prepare young people for being safe and healthy in the workplace.

Associate Professor Pisaniello says a standardised approach will have significant benefits for society, industry and business in the long term. "This is especially true for small businesses, which constitute the majority of employers in Australia," he says.