Young People and Safety in the Workplace

young employee

Young people within Britain are presented with a hand full of different career opportunities. More organisations are recruiting the younger generation as volunteers, trainees and apprentices.

It’s vital that each and every employee’s well-being is treated equally, irrespective of their age. It can often be forgotten that younger employees are new to the world of work. Therefore, they’re likely more inexperienced in dealing with certain situations. Although being perfectly capable of carrying out the job, young workers may not know how to identify hazards at work if they haven’t been previously exposed to them.

An Example

Let’s look at a hypothetical example of where an organisations duty of care comes into play when dealing with young workers:

A young, newly qualified engineer is in charge of operating advanced machinery that they have only just started using. Being in their first week of employment, the employee has not yet had adequate training and was not aware that they needed to wear safety gloves for that particular machine. They then suffer a serious injury resulting in being hospitalised. Due to the lack of training and initial supervision provided, the organisational body could be held liable by court, resulting in not only life changing consequences to the employee but financial costs to the firm.

A recent article published by the Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP), highlighted this concern by identifying that young workers are more likely to encounter incidents due to a lack of workplace experience and being in temporary and part time roles. Health and safety concerns are also far from their minds and not as high a priority as it should be.

What does the law say?

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, an employer has a responsibility to ensure that young people employed by them are not exposed to risk due to:

  • lack of experience
  • being unaware of existing and potential risks
  • lack of maturity

Things an employer must consider:

  • The layout of the workplace. A clear working environment will minimise the chances of an accident taking place. Ensure there are clear fire exits that are not obstructed.
  • The extent of health and safety training needed. Ensure all employees are trained in how to use machinery and the requirements needed to carry out certain jobs. Provide staff with first aid training too, no matter how short their time within your organisation. Those working in public facing roles who are vulnerable to challenging behaviour should be trained in how to deal with possible scenarios.
  • Conduct a risk assessment. Underpin any possible hazard or risk that a young worker may face and ensure they are made aware of these.
  • Personal safety service. Implementing Guardian24’s lone worker safety service is always an option to protect staff. With one button activation feature, an employee can trigger an alarm. This will be received by Guardian24’s 24/7 Alarm Receiving Centre where help can be sent to their exact location. Although not preventing an incident from occurring, Guardian24’s service can help resolve the issue by providing fast, efficient and bespoke backup to all employees.