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Young workers injuries

Added: 26 Jun 2012 09:50 - Health and Safety Industry

Young people make up a sizeable percentage of our workforce. There are 4 million in the UK of which a  quarter are 16-17 years old. The age of ‘young workers’  is considered as 16-24 years of age. There is a preconception maybe that this cross section of workers are safe in the workplace due to the industries they may choose to work in but this isn’t the case. They are exposed to the same hazards as older workers that can result in injury, illness and in some cases death. Young workers choose to work in places such as retail, restaurants or bars.

The high number of young people working in restaurants is one of the reasons why they suffer from a high rate of Industrial Diseases. Industrial Disease is a term used to cover any injury or illness developed in a working environment. In the example of restaurants, they work with knives, cooking equipment and work in an environment associated with slippery floors which accounts for a high proportion of work related injuries.

This isn’t the only occupation or reason why young people suffer from a high rate of occupational accidents and illness. A young worker is seriously hurt every 40 minutes! It is reported that young people have twice the work injury & illness rate than usual workers. A high proportion of young workers will be in their first job and if not they are more than likely to be new to their role. This means they will be inexperienced in their position and maybe working full stop. Their lack of experience will make them more at risk of injury as they are not aware of potential hazards. The British Safety Council (BSC) discovered in their research that 58% of young workers didn’t know anything about health & safety in the workplace. It has been proposed to add workplace health & safety to pupils curriculum to prepare school leavers for working life.

This inexperience and lack of knowledge of safety procedures will contribute heavily to the amount of work injuries in young people. Another factor is the lack of training given to these young, new starters. They should receive a sufficient induction for all areas of the role regarding any hazards they may face including using equipment properly, working with heights or handling of any dangerous substances.

These young workers are not only green to work and ill trained but they are also often left without supervision. It’s no wonder that there are so many injuries in this segment, especially with new starters. It is reported that the greatest period of risk is within the first four weeks of work.

Young workers are more at risk of injury or illness. These are the main reasons why;

  • Inexperienced at the tasks they are performing
  • Insufficient supervision
  • Inadequate amount and degree of training
  • Work too physically demanding for their younger bodies
  • Unconventional working hours and arrangements

Keeping these young workers safe is ultimately down to their employer.  They can’t help their naïvety and can only improve on this by gaining experience in a safe working environment. Employers have to give enough training and direction to ensure that their new and young employees have the knowledge and skills to do their job properly and more importantly safely.

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