Young Workers

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Take a look at some of these typical scenarios you may encounter while working and see how you would respond. We also give you some handy advice.

1. You have been at work in a garage for a few days and are getting more and more fed up. Everybody sees you as a target for the works' jokes. So far you have been sent to fetch a left handed screwdriver, a metric hammer and a tin of striped paint. What do you do?

a) just grin and bear it - it's only a few jokes
b) try to think up your own joke to get your own back
c) go and get a left handed screwdriver
d) complain to the person in charge

The best reaction depends on your personality. This kind of thing is quite common and usually only lasts for a short while. As you settle in you may be able to come up with a similar harmless joke but make sure you have made a friend first who you can talk it over with. e.g. make a label to put on a paint pot labelling it as striped paint! If it continues and becomes a form of bullying, talk to someone more senior in the company or your teacher if you are on work experience.

2. You are working in a third floor office and at one end of the room is a fire door clearly labelled:

To be used only in emergencies in case of fire

You have noticed that a number of people use it as a quick way to the next floor where the photocopier is. You have just been given some urgent work to go and photocopy. Your boss needs it right away. What do you do?

a) Go to the photocopier through the fire escape
b) Go the long way round and risk the boss complaining you took too long
c) Ask your boss which way to go
d) Tell her to do her own photocopying

Labels which are printed with white writing on a blue background are mandatory ie it is an offence to disregard it. Staff should not have been using the fire exit in this way. Your best way to deal with this is to talk to your boss, explaining that it will take you a while to get to the photocopier. Take a look at typical signs for Common Hazards in the Workplace.

3. You are working in a home for elderly people and you are asked to help a member of staff lift patients out of bed so that the beds can be made. Nobody has explained to you how to do this safely. What do you do?

a) Refuse to help
b) Just get on with the job
c) Keep helping as long as it doesn't hurt your back
d) Ask for tips about the best way to lift people

New employees or students should be given training in how to lift patients. If a patient is too heavy for an individual to lift safely then appropriate equipment should be used. You should not try to lift anything that causes you any back pain.

4. You have a job as a shop assistant but have only been working for a few weeks. You are quite slow at the till and find it difficult to remember prices of the goods without bar codes. A customer loses their patience with you and gets quite abusive. What do you do?

a) Call the manager who is busy with another customer
b) Send the customer to "Customer Services"
c) Ask the person at the till next to you for help
d) Tell the customer to give over, it's not your fault

Never get into an argument with a customer. Try to remain calm and seek further help. If the manager is busy you could talk to a colleague nearby or, if the customer is willing, suggest they go to customer services as soon as you have finished processing their goods.

5. You are working in a restaurant and are asked to change your hours from 9.30 am - 5.30 pm to 5.00pm - 11.00pm on a Saturday, which is the restaurant's busiest day. What do you do?

a) Agree
b) Say no
c) Say that you will do it if you can arrange transport home after 11.00pm
d) Tell them it is illegal for you to work that late

If you are on work experience you are not allowed to work before 6.00am or after 10.00pm. You could offer to work until 10.00pm, if you were willing, and politely point out that you are not allowed to work beyond this. You should make sure that transport is available to get home and that your parents and school know the hours you are working.

6. You are working in a sheet steel fabrication plant making ventilation ducting. Safety shoes with steel toecaps are provided for employees but you have small feet and they don't have any that fit you. Your supervisor tells you not to worry, your trainers will be OK! What do you do?

a) Tell them you can't work without proper shoes and go home
b) Ask if they can get some for tomorrow
c) Tell them you don't mind
d) Report your supervisor to the company manager

The company should supply you with shoes, whatever size your feet are. If there was a problem it should have been discovered before you started on the first day. This may also be an equal opportunities issue in that, on average, girls tend to have smaller feet than boys. You should not go into a potentially hazardous work place without the required protective clothing.

7. You are working in a leisure centre undertaking general duties. You are given a bucket and various cleaning products including disinfectants and bleach. You are told to go and clean the toilets. What do you do?

a) Get on with the work
b) Tell them you didn't get a job in a leisure centre to clean toilets
c) Ask about the various cleaning materials
d) Ask for protective gloves because you suffer from eczema

If you are employed for general duties in a leisure centre it is reasonable to expect you to do some cleaning. Cleaning materials can produce toxic fumes such as chlorine if mixed inappropriately and instruction should be given. Similarly bleach and other cleaning materials can cause skin irritation. Gloves should be provided if workers need to touch these chemicals.

8. You are working on a farm that has a few horses used for pony trekking for extra income in the summer. You have been given the job of raking out the stables. You are worried about one of the horses that seems rather aggressive. What do you do?

a) Take the horses out of the stables and get on with the work
b) Ask what you should do about the horses
c) Try to clean the stables with the horses in them
d) Clean all the stables except the one with the horse you don't trust

An inexperienced worker should not be asked to move the animals without trained assistance. The stables should not be cleaned out around the animals in case they become frightened and kick out. If in doubt ask for assistance.

9. You are working on a small building site constructing houses. Your supervisor asks you to paint some window frames on the ground floor and, when you have finished to do the first floor windows. He shows you how to use a ladder safely, how to attach your paint pot and how to secure the ladder from falling. What do you do?

a) Get on with it
b) Ask for instructions on how to paint a window
c) Ask for masking tape to stop the paint getting on the glass
d) Say you aren't allowed to work up ladders at that height

A young worker should not be working more than two metres above the ground. You can paint the ground floor windows but not those on the first floor. If you think you need particular equipment to do a job properly don't be afraid to ask about it.

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