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I’m an employer

Whether it’s apprentices, work placements or just employees new to the world of work, employing young workers presents a number of challenges.

As an employer, you need to know your responsibilities and legal requirements in ensuring the safety of young workers. This section looks at those areas and provides you with some valuable resources to help you manage young workers.


Being an employer of work experience students comes with many responsibilities. The majority of placement students will be new to the world of work and unfamiliar with the risks involved. Ensuring the safety of both young workers and your other employees is of paramount importance. You need to ensure they have appropriate training. Here are some things you need to know:

  1. Legally, work experience students are your employees. You should treat them the same as other young workers within your business.
  2. The placement organiser (i.e. the school or college) will hold a meeting with you before the placement. This meeting includes risk management arrangements and job roles. You should take notes and keep a record of this meeting. This simplifies the process when using the same organisers or placing students in similar roles.
  3. If your business is a low-risk environment (e.g. a shop or office) your existing risk management arrangements for employees should be enough.
  4. If your business has less common risks, you will need to make extra arrangements for placement students. This needs to cover issues such as inductions, site familiarity, supervision and any PPE that may be required.
  5. If the placement is in a high-risk environment, you need to consider what the student will be doing and that the necessary training and supervision are provided. Are there any specific factors such as chemicals, extreme temperatures or radiation to consider?
  6. When performing inductions check that students know the procedure for raising health and safety concerns.
  7. Supervision is key. It helps you get a clear idea of the placement student’s capabilities. It enables you to check the effectiveness of the training.
  8. Training is also important. But given that the placement is likely to be short, it only needs to cover off the tasks that the student will be undertaking.
  9. Upon completion of the induction and training, ensure that it has been understood. Make sure the student is aware of the hazards and risks in the work environment.

Top Tip: Talk up, not down.

Make your training sessions less of a lecture and more of a conversation. Create an atmosphere where people are comfortable airing any issues and encouraging questions.

Health and safety law states that employers must ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of all employees. However, there are considerations that specifically apply to employing young people.

  1. The most important piece of information is that a young person is legally defined as being anyone under 18.
  2. You have a legal responsibility to ensure that young workers are not exposed to risks due to their lack of experience, maturity or risk awareness.
  3. In doing this, the factors you need to consider include:
    • - The handling of equipment
    • - Any biological or chemical agents they may be exposed to
    • - The layout of the work environment
    • - The level of training required
  4. Always consider whether the young worker is physically able to perform the task. Are they able to lift or reach the required equipment?
  5. Always remember that young workers have a lack of training and attention to safety. A risk that you may think appears obvious, may not be to a young worker.
  6. Providing appropriate supervision will help you identify training needs and allow you to make additional adjustments.
  7. Always inform parents or guardians of the possible risks and the control measures you have in place. There is no set way of doing this, so it can be done in writing or verbally.
  8. Young people have different employment rights from adult workers. You can visit the government website to find out more.

Top Tip: Keep it real.

Stats and slides have their place, but often real life stories are the best way to get your point across. There’s nothing wrong with tugging on the heartstrings to make your point.

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