Young workers, and those on work experience, often do not have the knowledge or experience to spot unsafe practices, and they may be keen to demonstrate their abilities without thinking about the potential consequences. Having clear instructions and control measures in place, and the correct level of supervision, will ensure that they stay safe – and you stay out of court.
5 Top Tips for Keeping Young Employees Safe in Your Workplace
- Risk assessment is key. You should already have risk assessed your work activities, but you should review the assessments to ensure they have taken into account the specific needs of young workers, including factors such as a lack of maturity or physical capability. An example is manual handling, whereby a young worker might not be able to carry the same weight as an adult.
- Full training must be given on the work activity, and the associated hazards and control measures. Ask for young workers to explain the information back to you, if you are unsure whether they have understood it.
- Ensure there is the correct level of supervision. Often, young people are unaware of the specific hazards they may encounter in the workplace, especially if they are new to work.
- Select suitable work activities in relation to the young person’s psychological capacity and ability to understand and follow instructions. Certain high-risk activities such as those involving hazardous substances, excessive heat or cold, vibration or noise may need to be avoided if the risks cannot be suitably controlled.
- Establish clear rules as to what young workers can and cannot do in the workplace. It might be useful to put up signage on certain machines that should not be used, or areas not to be accessed, as a visual reminder.
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