Employing Young People – what do I need to do?

young person

A young person is anyone below the age of 18 but above the official minimum school leaving age – those who have not reached the minimum school leaving age are classed as children.

There is not a legal requirement to do a specific written risk assessment for a young person, however the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 states 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 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 particular agents, processes and work

For low risk work places, a review of your current risk assessments may be sufficient whilst for other more complex or high risk activities you may need to complete a specific young person’s risk assessment.

Doing a specific young person risk assessment can be a useful practice for even low risk workerplaces and is something Avensure always recommend.

Issues to consider for young persons include:

  • Individual capability – young people are individuals and just like everyone else their attitude and behaviour will differ from person to person. Therefore, when assessing the risk, you will need to consider the individual themselves.
  • Physical capability – as with all individuals physical capability will vary, however young person’s bodies are still growing, they may also attempt to take on a task that is physically too demanding.
  • Psychological capability – This doesn’t have to be a complicated process. It could be as straightforward as making sure a young person understands what is expected of them, checking they understand and are able to remember and follow instructions.
  • Raising concerns – Being new to the working world may mean young persons are less likely to raise health and safety concerns with their employer. Ensure that there is an open door policy in place and that they feel comfortable raising concerns or asking questions.
  • Supervision and Training – It’s important that young persons are supervised by a competent person and the training provided is thorough.

For apprentices who are under 18, the employer has the same responsibilities as for other young workers. The training provider or apprenticeship agency will also have a responsibility to the young persons and will consult with the employer regarding this.