Employers Warned On Risks to Young Workers in First-Time Jobs

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30 Jun 2010

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It's that time of year when young people are leaving school or college and are entering the workplace for the first time. This should be an exciting experience. However, in the United Kingdom a young person is injured at work every 40 minutes. In the last ten years, 66 under-19s have been killed at work. Evidence from around the world suggests that young people have a higher than average risk of being killed or injured in the workplace. Croner health and safety consultant, Nasar Farooq, says: "Young people represent the next generation of our workforce and it's the role of an employer to provide a productive and safe working environment. Without the appropriate guidance, supervision and training, young people could be put at unnecessary risk when starting in employment which could lead to serious accidents." Inexperience, insufficient and poor quality training, physically demanding work and irregular working arrangements all contribute to workplace accidents among the young. Employers are legally required to examine specific factors that put their staff at risk, such as the type of work equipment to be used, the operation of machinery and the risk from particular substances, which will be more relevant for particular industries such as manufacturing and agriculture. They must also consider the working environment, looking at temperature extremes, noise or vibration. Safeguarding young people in employment is not only a health and safety issue. As well as complying with the law, there are clear business benefits from providing a secure workplace for young workers, including increased productivity and improved company reputation. Nasar Farooq says: "There have been stories in the past of young people losing fingers while using faulty machinery and even more severe cases where people have died from health and safety failures. Employers have a duty to the health and safety of their workforce and need to undertake a full risk assessment and provide comprehensive training to reduce the risks of any accidents taking place."

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