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18th May 2015

Young people working safely

Senior woman with her caregiver at home

As an employer you may have a young person undertaking work experience and learning within your workplace. Due to the young person being under 18 years of age there are specific considerations you will need to address before allowing them to work on the premises.

Definition of a young person

A young person is defined as being anyone under 18 years of age.

In any work environment, the starting point is undertaking a risk assessment to review the safety of the young person at work. The risk assessment will highlight any specific areas where additional controls are necessary. In healthcare establishments, depending on where the young person is working, it is likely that there will be additional measures to consider. These include:

  • Specific healthcare induction, covering fire evacuation procedures, rules of the work environment, site familiarisation and first aid arrangements
  • Appropriate supervision with a competent person who is aware of the lack of experience of the young worker
  • Provision of any protective equipment such as aprons, gloves and shoes where required
  • Provision of suitable information, instruction and training in infection control
  • Provision of suitable information, instruction and training in working with services users, including vulnerable persons
  • Awareness of what the young person will be exposed to and whether they are able to understand what they observe, such as care of the dying
  • Ensuring that the young person does not use work equipment that they are not trained to use

The employer’s duty

Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations requires that all significant risks with work activities are risk assessed. This includes work undertaken by a young person.

HSE five step risk assessment process

The risk assessment must follow the HSE five step process, covering the following:

  • Identification of the hazards
  • Identification of who might be harmed and how
  • Evaluation of the risks, deciding on precautions
  • The recording of your significant findings
  • Reviewing your assessment and updating, if necessary

Legislation – young persons’ safety

The legislation that covers the requirement to carry out a risk assessments is:

1. Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 covers duties of person with control of premises
Section 4 (3) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 sets out the general duties of persons concerned with premises to persons other than their employees.

2. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999: Regulation 3 states that every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of -
- the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work; and
- the risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the employer has a responsibility to ensure that young people employed are not exposed to risk due to:

  • lack of experience
  • being unaware of existing or potential risks
  • lack of maturity

Review the following when a young person is working on the premises:

  • the layout of the workplace
  • the physical, biological and chemical agents they will be exposed to
  • how they will handle work equipment
  • how work and processes are organised
  • the extent of health and safety training needed
  • risks from particular agents, processes and work

Instruction, information, training and supervision

A young person will require suitable and sufficient instruction, information, training and supervision to ensure they work safely. The training will need to be appropriate to the age of the person and their lack of experience.

Near misses, incidents and dangerous occurrences

The employer must investigate any near miss or incident involving a young person. An explanation of the incident investigation process will help the young person understand that they need to report any incidents at work.

QCS policies

QCS has guidance and policies for management of equipment to support your service in meeting the requirements of health and safety.


HSE - Young people and work experience: A brief guide to health and safety for employers - The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 - Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974

Sally Beck RGN, BSc (Hons), MSc, CMIOSH – QCS Expert Health and Safety Contributor

Topics: Health & Safety

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