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I’m a young worker

Starting a new job can be both an exciting and stressful time. While the majority of young workers come home safely from work, occasionally things can go wrong.

Whether you’re an apprentice, on work experience or it’s your first day in a new job, there are some simple steps you can take to keep safe.


First day

Your first day on the job is often spent orientating yourself, finding out about your new role, and learning workplace policies. Most employers are great at making sure you have the information you need, such as the name and location of your nearest first aider and who to go to if you have an accident or spot something that you think is dangerous.

Just in case there are any holes in your knowledge, we’ve put together a short First Day Checklist to help you keep this new information in one place.

If there are any questions on the checklist you can’t answer, then don’t forget to ask your manager!

Top Tip: Ask questions.

When meeting new people, it can sometimes be intimidating to ask questions. Remember, there’s no such thing as a stupid question when it comes to safety, so if you’re unsure of something, don’t be afraid to speak up. Who knows, it might just save your life!

Young Worker

No matter how old you are or where you work, all employers have a number of legal responsibilities that they must fulfil in order to keep you safe. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), they must:

  • Decide what could harm you in your job and take precautions to manage the risks.
  • In a way you can understand, explain how risk will be controlled and tell you who is responsible for this.
  • Free of charge, give you the health and safety training and any equipment/protective clothing you need, and ensure it is properly maintained.
  • Provide toilets, washing facilities and drinking water.
  • Provide adequate first-aid facilities.
  • Report major injuries, fatalities, diseases and dangerous incidents to the HSE.
  • Have insurance that covers you in case you get hurt at work or ill through work.
  • Work with any other employers or contractors sharing the workplace or providing employees (such as agency workers), so that everyone’s health and safety is protected.

Just as your employer has a duty to keep you safe, there are a number of responsibilities you have to your employer, as the HSE explains:

  • Follow the training you have received when using any equipment your employer has given you.
  • Take reasonable care of your own and other people’s health and safety.
  • Co-operate with your employer on health and safety.
  • Tell someone (your employer, supervisor, or health and safety representative) if you think the work or inadequate precautions are putting anyone’s health and safety at serious risk.

Top Tip: Trust your instincts.

If you think something looks unsafe, doesn’t feel right, or you have a “near miss”, don’t be afraid to open your mouth. It could help prevent a nasty accident!

In order to stay safe and healthy at work, it’s important you take regular breaks and holiday. No matter how old you are, almost all workers are legally entitled to a minimum of five-six weeks’ paid holiday per year (known as statutory leave entitlement or annual leave). The length of the breaks depends on how old you are:

If you are under 18, you are usually entitled to a minimum:

  • Thirty minute rest break if you work more than 4.5 hours (if possible this should be one continuous break).
  • Daily rest of 12 hours between working days.
  • Uininterrupted rest of 48 hours every week.

Workers over 18 are usually entitled to:

  • One uninterrupted 20 minute rest break during their working day, if they work more than six hours a day.
  • Eleven hours rest between working days.
  • Either an uninterrupted 24 hours without any work each week or an uninterrupted 48 hours without any work each fortnight

Depending on your contract and role, there are some exceptions to this, which can be found on the government website.

Most employers are great at listening to any worries you may have about your safety at work, and if you have a concern at work, your first stop should always be your manager, supervisor, or health and safety representative. If however, you still feel a situation is unsafe after speaking to your employer, you should contact the HSE. Find contact details for your nearest regional office.

Top Tip: Join a trade union.

According to the TUC, workplaces that have union safety reps and joint safety committees have half the serious injury rate of those without. Joining a trade union can help you protect your rights at work and keep you healthy and safe while on the job.

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