How to protect young people from risks in your workplace

Working with young people can be exciting for your business. But it can come with potential risks for employers. Learn how you can use BrightSafe to make sure young people follow risk assessments and stay safe in the workplace.

First published on Tuesday, Mar 21, 2023

Last updated on Tuesday, Mar 21, 2023

4 min read

Working with young people can be amazing as they bring fresh talent, energy, and diverse skills to your business. However, most young people don’t have experience with safety standards in work environments. They're often fresh out of school, and your business might be their first introduction to the world of work. Read on to learn how to make your workplace safer for young employees…

So, who counts as a "young person" in the world of work?

A young person is anyone who's over 16 but under 18. As mentioned, working with young people is great, but there are specific rules you must follow. Here's a quick look at a few rules for working with young employees.

They must:

  • Only work up to 40 hours a week.
  • Have at least a 30-minute break.
  • Not work night shifts between 11 pm and 7 am.
  • Receive pay matching the minimum wage.

Besides the rules above, you also have legal responsibilities as an employer working with young people.

What legal responsibilities do businesses have when employing young people?

You must record their working hours, ensure they don't face age discrimination and promote a safe work environment. It's also essential to manage your young worker’s health & safety to the same standard as adult employees.

Young people can't do certain high-risk jobs and can only work within their physical or psychological capacity. They also can't do work that exposes them to hazardous substances. Some examples are activities where they’re exposed to extreme cold, noise, or vibrations.

However, there are a few exemptions to these rules. A young person can conduct work involving certain risks if:

  • The work is necessary for their training.
  • A competent person supervises the work.
  • You reduce the risks to the lowest level.

So, what happens when a workplace doesn’t have the proper health & safety procedures in place?

How an unsafe work environment affects your business

Sometimes employees face unknown risks, making unchecked workplace hazards very dangerous. That's why it’s best to give them clear instructions and training on safety.

For example, an employee misusing equipment could gravely injure themselves. Or, a wet floor without a warning sign could lead to a nasty fall. Learn more about other common hazards in the workplace.

Besides interrupting your daily operations, you risk damaging your reputation and other legal consequences.

You could face crippling settlement payouts when an employee gets hurt. Some accidents result in life-altering injuries, which you would be liable for as an employer. Learn what common causes of accidents at work are and how to prevent them. Many businesses have lost thousands of pounds in compensation—don’t fall into the same situation!

There’s no need to fret, while this sounds daunting, keeping your staff safe can be easy.

What measures should employers have in place to protect young people?

Here are a few steps you can take to protect your young employees.

  1. Document and share Risk Assessments and Method Statements (RAMS). They should be relevant and in line with any risks your employees will face in their work activities.
  2. Make sure your employers’ liability insurance is current and covers you for at least £5 million.
  3. Have an up-to-date company health & safety policy that shows how the business manages risks to health & safety.

You don't need a specific document for young people if you already have existing arrangements for assessing and managing risks. All you need to do is adapt them to include risks to young people.

Protect your young employees and stay compliant with the latest health & safety laws with BrightHR

Putting together a risk management plan can be time consuming and stressful. So, let our health & safety software take care of it for you!

BrightSafe helps you establish safe work procedures for young employees with a library of health & safety documentation. It’s also packed with e-learning courses for training both young & adult employees on health & safety best practices.

Don’t just take our word for it. Take some time to explore and learn more about how to protect your young employees with BrightSafe.

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