Health and Safety for young employees

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Ensuring young employees are not exposed to risk due to lack of maturity, experience or being unaware of existing or potential risks, are requirements of the employer under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Contemplation of areas to be addressed should be a straightforward task in an office environment that is a low risk example. Risks however are likely to be greater in higher risk work places and more attention will be required to ensure they are properly controlled.

Matters for the employer to consider would include such issues as how they will handle work equipment, risks from particular agents, work processes and the layout of the workplace. Additionally any biological, physical or chemical agents they will be exposed to should be bore in mind, as should how the workplace is organised.

To do:

Address if the work to be carried out by the young person is within their physical limits and psychological capacity. Such actions as manual handling training and the ability to follow directions are simple solutions and considerations.

Factor into your arrangements whether the tasks involve material that can cause cancer, is toxic, can adversely effect unborn children or cause any chronic health effects and the exposure levels to the worker being kept to the legal limits.

Where there is exposure to harmful radiation, ensure the young person’s contact is restricted and does not exceed the stated safe does limit.

It should be remembered that a young person may have lower risk awareness and they will not necessarily recognize hazards due to insufficient experience, training or lack of attention to safety. Custom-made training should be considered to mitigate this.

If the there are risks associated with exposure to heat, cold, vibration or noise, the existing required control measures in place will be sufficient to be applied to the young persons.

Young Persons and Working Hours

Health and Safety law does not govern working hours for young employees. Protections in relation to the hours worked for young persons reflect the differences in employment rights in comparison to adults.

 Case Study

On 02 June 2015 a Maidstone company specialising in supplying agricultural machinery and motor vehicles were fined £18,000 and ordered to pay £4,698 costs after a 16 year old on paid work experience nearly lost the tips of his fingers in unguarded machinery. The top of his left hand index finger and right hand middle finger were badly cut as a result. He suffered from ongoing difficulties with gripping and numbness as a result.

It is crucial that proper documented arrangements are made, communicated and supervised for any young persons you employ with all significant risks addressed.

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Elena Boura