Our latest Newsletter will provide you with some important information on Young People at work. The article covers who is classed as young person, if you are taking on a young person what do you need to do, training and supervision, the health and safety law and finally other factors to consider.

This newsletter is aimed to help employers who provide work experience opportunities or employ a young person. The article will give you guidance from the HSE to help you ensure young people have their health and safety protected while they are working for you.

The information and guidance in this article has been taken directly from the ‘HSE website’ and the ‘Young People at Work’ HSE guide.

Who is classed as a young person?

  • A young person is anyone under 18.
  • A child is anyone who has not yet reached the official minimum school leaving age.

If you are taking on a young person, what do you need to do?

  • Review your risk assessment before they start.
  • Discuss the placement in advance with organisers.
  • Take account of what they and the parents or carers tell you of the student’s physical and psychological capacity and of any particular needs, for example due to any health conditions or learning difficulties.
  •  Keep any additional work in proportion to the environment. 

For work placements in low-risk environments, such as workplaces like offices or shops, with everyday risks that will mostly be familiar to the student, existing arrangements that are already in place for other employees should be sufficient.

For environments with risks less familiar to the student arrangements will need to be made manage the risks. This will include induction, supervision, site familiarisation, and any protective equipment needed.

  For a placement in a higher-risk environment, such as construction, agriculture, and manufacturing the HSE advise that you will need to:

  • Consider what work the student will be doing or observing, the risks involved in that work and how these are managed.
  • Be satisfied yourself that the instruction, training, and supervisory arrangements have been properly thought through and that they work in practice.
  • Explain to parents/carers of children what the significant risks are and what has been done to control them.

Training and Supervision

It is more than likely that the workplace the young person is going to be in is going to be a new environment to them, in some cases this will be facing new risks. The HSE state that you will need to provide them with clear instructions, training, and supervision to allow them to work without putting themselves and other people at risk.

Young people are likely to need more supervision than adults. Having the correct amount of in place supervision will aid you in getting a good understanding of the young person’s capabilities and monitor the effectiveness of the training that they have had.
The HSE advise that you will need to consider how much training is necessary. A proportionate approach is needed. If you run a low-risk business, it would not be expected to have the need for lengthy technical training.

If a student is on a short-term work experience placement, induction and training needs should be tailored to the tasks they are going to be completing during their placement. The HSE advise that it is important that you check young people are aware of the instruction and training. Which could include, for example:

  • The hazards and risks in the workplace.
  • The health and safety precautions that are in place. In workplaces where there are health and safety representatives, they can play a valuable role early on by:
  • Introducing the young person to the workplace.
  • Helping with their ongoing training.
  • Giving you feedback about concerns.
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The Health & Safety Law

Health and Safety Legal Requirements

Under the health and safety law, every employer must ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of all their employees. There are some considerations that need to be made for young people.
This section of our newsletter will outline the requirements in the law. Putting these requirements into practice should be straightforward and, in most cases, these will be existing risk management arrangements that are already in place.
Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, you have a responsibility to ensure that young people employed by you are not exposed to risk due to:

  • Lack of experience.
  •  Being unaware of existing or potential risks.
  • Lack of maturity.

You must consider:

  •  The layout of the workplace.
  • The physical, biological, and chemical agents they will be exposed to.
  • How they will handle work equipment.
  •  How the work and processes are organised.
  • The extent of health and safety training needed.
  • Risks from agents, processes, and work. 

You need to consider whether the work the young person will do:

  • Is beyond their physical or psychological capacity.
  • Involves harmful exposure to substances that are toxic.
  • Involves harmful exposure to radiation – Ensure a young person’s exposure to radiation is restricted and does not exceed the allowed dose limit.
  • Involves risk of accidents that cannot reasonably be recognised or avoided by young people due to their insufficient attention to safety or lack of experience or training.
  • Has a risk to health from extreme cold, heat, noise, or vibration – A young person, who is not a child, can carry out work involving these risks if the work is necessary for their training, the work is properly supervised by a competent person, the risks are reduced to the lowest level, so far as reasonably practicable.

Other considerations

There are other processes and work sectors that should be considered when employing a young person.

Working hours and young workers working hours are not governed by the health and safety law. Young people and children have different employment rights from adult workers and are subject to protections in relation to the hours they can work. Other regulations state that children below the minimum school leaving age must not be employed in industrial workplaces such as factories, construction sites etc, with the only exception of them being on work experience. Children under 13 are generally prohibited from any form of employment.

The HSE website will provide you with an extensive list of other working sectors that the process may differ depending on the work the young person is going to undertake. This can be found under their ‘Find out more’.
For more information on this topic, click here. This will take you directly to the HSE website.

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