Workers are far more likely to be injured in workplace accidents during the first few months of a new job than at any other time says the British Safety Council. With the holiday season approaching, employers are urged to pay extra attention to the health and safety of young people hired for temporary, summer work.
By taking some simple steps, says Alex Botha, Chief Executive Officer at the British Safety Council, the risk of injury to young workers can be easily prevented. "Vacation jobs are a great way for young people to earn money, get some experience and develop skills but we know they can be particularly vulnerable when they start work," he said. "There are many reasons for this: a general lack of work experience; unfamiliarity with the workplace, machinery or work processes; a lack of physical capability to do the job or the confidence to raise concerns; a failure of employers to provide the necessary training and familiarisation.
"Leadership is key in preventing injury to a young person at the start of their working life. Organisations need to ensure that safe and healthy work practices are the rule and they have a culture that promotes and values safe behaviour. The first step is to plan ahead and establish what the risks are – risks from lifting, working at height, using machinery, moving around the site, inhalation of dust, are the most common ones. Then using the knowledge of experienced staff decide how best to control these risks including through the provision of relevant training. Do check that young people have understood what they have been taught.
"The British Safety Council is determined to keep health and safety simple and has a priority to reduce the risks young people face at work. We have worked closely with schools and have provided resources to help them develop hazard awareness among young people. We have a dedicated website that is easily accessible, with information that is simple to understand and advice that is helpful for any employer working with young people. I strongly advise employers to check out the resources we have made freely available."
Risk education is crucial to achieve the British Safety Council's vision that nobody is injured or made ill at work. Its 'Speak Up, Stay Safe' campaign highlights the particular risks that young people face and puts good communication at the heart of good health and safety. A dedicated website with information, fact sheets on the law and good practice, top tips on working with young people as well as videos and links to organisations like the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), is freely available at https://www.britsafe.org/speakupstaysafe.