Young Workers

Archive No. 20

In the news Law in action In quotes Archive»


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Shattered Lives

Slips, trips and falls in the workplace caused 61 deaths and over 14,000 serious injuries in the UK last year alone. To raise awareness of the dangers, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched the second phase of its Shattered Lives campaign.

Practical advice on how to minimise the risk of injury is available on the Shattered Lives website, along with the interactive STEP e-tool which includes quizzes, videos, animations and case studies.

The campaign focuses on the dangers in food retail, catering and hospitality, food and drink manufacturing, building and plant maintenance, construction, healthcare and education, although many of the resources are relevant to every job.

Marcia Davies, HSE Head of the Injury Reduction Programme said “People often view slips, trips and falls as trivial incidents, even comical but they are no joke to those who suffer major injuries, a lifetime of disability, time off work and in the worst cases death.

“We want to raise awareness of how these incidents can happen and how they can be easily avoided by taking common sense actions and precautions at no or little cost. If you spot a hazard in your workplace deal with it, don’t assume that somebody else will.

“The lives of workers and their families are shattered by the serious consequences of these types of accidents. Simple measures introduced by businesses can make a positive difference to safety in the workplace.”


Young worker guide

The TUC has published a new leaflet for young workers, explaining basic rights such as the minimum wage, safety legislation, training, time off and protection against working long hours.

A young workers' guide to their rights and trade union membership gives a short summary of the main points on each topic. It also contains sections on apprentices and agency workers and has an introduction to trade unions. A list of useful contacts has links to valuable places of support and advice.



Driving dangers

Young drivers aged 17-24 face and create a higher risk of accidents than older motorists. RoSPA has published a new study which looks at ways of reducing the risks.

The report reveals that a new driving for work qualification would be welcomed by companies in order to prepare young workers for life on the road, as around 60% of employers do not feel that the current system of training and testing is adequate. Of the 407 managers surveyed, three quarters said that their young employees had not been trained to drive in conditions such as icy weather or at night, and more than two thirds reported that their drivers were driving vehicles they had not been specifically trained to use, such as vans.

Duncan Vernon, RoSPA’s road safety manager, said: “Our research found that there is a clear skills and training gap. Young workers are being required to drive vehicles, and in conditions and situations, in which they have limited, if any, prior experience.

“Many employers reported that they did not rely on the driving licence as evidence of competence in driving for work and many conduct their own assessments before allowing their employees to drive for work purposes. It is not surprising, therefore, that so many said they would find a post-test driving for work qualification useful.”

RoSPA is now developing a Young drivers at work workshop and will produce an online guide to support employers who wish to run similar events.

The report can be accessed at:



Don’t sleep on the job

Workers and contractors have been warned of the dangers of sleeping on construction sites, after a principal contractor was prosecuted for exposing workers to a high risk of fire.

Asaad Al-Helu allowed five migrant Polish workers to use the site in Hull as sleeping accommodation. The workers were in serious danger of death or injury from fire, as they were smoking, drinking and using heaters despite the building being full of wood and rubbish and the electrics being unsafe.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said that the workers were also at risk as there was no means of escape or of raising the alarm if a fire occurred, endangering not only the men sleeping on site but also, potentially, the residents of nearby houses.

The site contractor pleaded guilty to two offences under Section 33(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £1,000, with costs of just over £1,000.

Health and safety Inspector John Rowe said: "These five construction workers were allowed to sleep on the site at night, which exposed them to fatal injuries in the foreseeable event of a fire. One carelessly discarded cigarette could have had serious and possibly fatal consequences, not only for them but also for local residents.

"Generally, standards of work and preparation on the site fell far short of the industry norm. The risks were foreseeable and straightforward to avoid."


Life at sea

A group of young seafarers have made recommendations to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on the crucial issues affecting their careers, including ensuring rights to shore leave, job security and creating a positive image of working at sea.

The twenty young people, who work as deck and engine officers, cadets or in the military, attended a focus group session in London, organised by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and a number of shipping companies.

The seafarers said that overall, their jobs helped them to develop good life skills and the opportunity to see the world, but that they also meant missing their families and friends. In addition, they said that generally people had a negative and outdated view of the industry.

Amongst the issues raised was the need for an international reporting scheme to log violations of the right to shore leave, increased levels of recreational facilities onboard boats and a need to take action to make sure that seafarers involved in maritime accidents are treated fairly. They reported a conflict between safety and security and also flagged up the issue of fatigue, with long hours and too few people to cover watchkeeping duty resulting in a higher chance of accidents.



Click here to go to the top of the page.Law in action

The information on accidents and prosecutions featured in this section comes from a number of different sources including the Health and Safety Executive and regional and national newspapers.


Click here to go to the top of the page.Young Worker quotes


"Work experience pupils are viewed as employees for the purposes of health and safety legislation, yet they are often more vulnerable than a company's trained and qualified employees.

"It is therefore imperative that if companies contract to have work experience pupils from local schools they update any risk assessments to take into consideration this particularly vulnerable group of employee.”

HSE inspector Judith McNulty-Green


“I am...determined that we do even more to protect young people from the damaging impact of long-term unemployment. The alternative is a return to the days when a whole generation of young people found themselves abandoned to a future on the scrapheap. We will not repeat that mistake. So I want to offer a guarantee. From January, everyone under the age of 25, who has been out of work for 12 months, will be offered a job or a place in training”.

Alistair Darling, Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his Budget 2009 speech to the House of Commons.


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