Legal Article - Health & Safety

Protection of Young Workers

Employers are required to assess risks to young people (i.e. under 18 years of age) before they start work. Employers of young people already at work who have performed a risk assessment which takes account of their youth need not repeat their assessments.

Children under 13 years old are generally prohibited from any form of employment. Children between 13 and the minimum school leaving age (i.e. just before or just after their 16th birthday) are prohibited from being employed in motor retail workshops and petrol forecourts, except when on work experience schemes approved by the local education authority.

The Health and Safety (Training for Employment) Regulations 1990 designate children on work experience as employees for the purposes of health and safety legislation and they must have the same protection as other employees.

Young persons over school leaving age on training schemes (e.g. modern apprenticeships etc.) should be under proper supervision by a competent person when undertaking hazardous work.
Employers should take into account the inexperience, lack of awareness of risks and immaturity of young workers, paying particular attention to

The fitting-out and layout of the workplace and the workstation
The nature, degree and duration of exposure to physical, biological and chemical agents
The form, range and use of work equipment and the way in which it is handled
The organisation of processes and activities
The extent of the health and safety training provided to the young persons.

Employers must give information to parents (and those with parental responsibility) of school age children about risks incurred by the child at work and the control measures. This does not have to be in writing.

In the motor retail industry there are very few circumstances where young persons are physiologically more at risk than adults, except those working with compressed air or conditions that cause regular exposure to whole-body vibration. It is their relative immaturity and lack of experience that should be given special consideration in the risk assessment.


Published: 23 Mar 2011


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