Young People at Work, You Have Rights Too!


Despite specific laws to address the issue, the health and safety of young people in the workplace is often overlooked. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have recently prosecuted two companies. One was responsible for the injury of a 22 year old trainee technician, who required skin grafts. Sadly the second was responsible for the death of a marine engineering apprentice.

Health and Safety Inspection in the Workplace

Simpson Millar LLP has also encountered injuries among young people in the workplace at trainee/apprentice level.

What's the Law Regarding Young People at Work?

A young person is anyone under 18 and the law states that an employer must make sure that their young employees are not put at risk because of a lack of experience, maturity, or a lack of awareness to risks. This places an additional requirement on employers to look after the young people they employ.

When carrying this out, the employer has to think of things such as:

  • Whether the employee can safely lift and move weights, and follow the instructions given
  • Whether the employee has the proper training or experience to be aware of the risks
  • Whether the employee is properly supervised

What About Those Over 18?

The 22-year-old trainee technician was electrocuted whilst testing a transformer. He touched an exposed electrical conductor, which should have been covered. It can be argued that someone with more experience would have been more aware of the risk in this situation, but nethertheless the employer still exposed them to this potential danger.

Jason Burden, 19, was an apprentice at a marine engineering company in Sunderland. He was reassembling a thruster from a ship, weighing almost a tonne, when it slipped and crushed him to death. His death was avoidable, and the court was told that there was no written risk assessment for the job Jason was doing when he was killed.

These are both vivid examples of where employers have failed to comply with health and safety, and it has come at a price.

At Simpson Millar LLP we have acted for young employees in trainee and apprentice roles. A trainee engineer broke his ankle, in an injury which will have permanent ongoing effects.

Sam was required by his employer to stack several boards against one another, and eventually they fell, crushing his ankle. He was exposed to the risk by his employer, because the task didn't follow the proper health and safety procedures.

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