Advice for Work Experience Organisers
If you are organising work experience placements for your establishment, ask the potential placement provider to carry out a risk assessment of their place of work with you. Ask questions.
Here are a few things to look out for when trying to find out how conscious the provider is of its health and safety duties and responsibilities:
All spick and span: How clean and tidy is the workplace?
While you cannot expect a workplace to look like a newly scrubbed bathroom, you can observe whether or not things are where they should be or whether they have been carelessly cast aside as to obstruct aisles and walkways.
Hot stuff: How are the fire precautions?
Fire is potentially lethal to everyone. It is important that you find out what the company does to reduce the risk of fire. Look for fire extinguishers and find out when they were last checked and by whom. Are fire signs and instructions obvious and easy to see and read? What about, fire alarms and fire drills?
All things bright and beautiful: Is the lighting right?
Depending on the type of work being done and the nature of the workplace, is the lighting appropriate? Is it brightly lit or rather dull and dingy. Are any of the lights humming and/or flickering?
Getting a buzz: How are the electrics?
Can you see any dangling wires or untidy wiring? How are the plugs, switches and sockets? Are any of them broken or cracked?
Mean machines: Is there any machinery?
If there is machinery, is it properly guarded, if required to be? Are any machines broken or faulty? Have such machines been made safe and then clearly marked as being out of order?
Now hear this!: How are the noise levels?
Very few places work in absolute silence, most offices and shops have reasonably pleasant levels of noise. If the noise is deafening (a mixture of machinery and voices shouting above it) then it constitutes a hazard. Find out how the workers are protected from damage to their hearing. See next section
Let's get personal and protective: Is there a need for personal, protective equipment (PPE)?
Does the nature of the work present hazards to people's hearing, sight, breathing, skin? If so, what PPE is provided? Will young people on placement be expected to do work which requires PPE? If so, are varying sizes available?
Parking posteriors: Is there seating?
If a lot of the work is to be done sitting down, how suitable are the seats provided. If there are a lot of computers, are the work stations appropriate with adjustable chairs? Are there seats (or rest rooms) available for workers who spend a lot of time standing?
Bog standard: How are the toilets and washing facilities?
These should be kept clean and in good working order. Look out for cracked and leaking units. Soap (liquid or tablet) must be available as well as hand-drying facilities (hot air, paper towels etc.). The amount of facilities available should be suitable for the number of staff who are going to use them and the type of work that they do. Where there are women workers, is sanitary protection provided?
A sign of the times: Can you see safety signs and information posters?
Appropriate safety signs must be displayed to give warnings, directions, information etc. Health and safety posters may also be displayed. The health and safety poster called Health and safety law: What you should know should be displayed for students on work experience to see. Alternatively, leaflets may be made available to them. What other information will be given to young people?
Hi-de-hi!: How happy is the workforce?
What is the atmosphere like? Are the workers scared of the bosses? Are people afraid to speak? Is everyone moaning about the work? Alternatively, does the workforce seem generally happy with lots of people enjoying their work? Are the staff friendly etc.
There may be other things you can add to this list but if you use the example above, you will be better able to make a judgement as to whether the potential work experience provider has a suitable workplace.
Print a copy of this list in a handy 12 Point Checklist ( PDF 31kb)