With the summer holidays now underway, for thousands of students around the country, the Health and Safety Authority has this week urged employers to be extra vigilant when it comes to taking on young workers for the summer. It is estimated that, although young people constitute only 4 per cent of the workforce, injuries to them represent around 10 per cent of all reported injuries.
Figures from the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work indicate that young people are at least 50 per cent more likely to be hurt at work than older more experienced workers so it’s vital that employers understand the added risk involved with employing teenagers and young inexperienced workers. Furthermore, young people often get jobs in sectors such as hospitality which expose them to a higher risk of workplace injuries.
Employers should; ensure young workers are given the appropriate training and clear instructions, encourage young workers to ask questions and raise concerns when they have any, provide any necessary PPE (personal protective equipment ), and closely supervise young workers, especially when undertaking higher risk activities.
Young workers should:, follow any training and instructions as communicated by the employer, ask questions if in any doubt, be aware of their rights, and where to seek help, get help from a colleague when necessary, e.g. when lifting something heavy, and report any accidents or ‘near misses’ immediately.
Robert Roe, Assistant Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority says that employers are responsible for protecting young workers, “accidents don’t just happen, our research shows that the vast majority of accidents can be prevented with some forward planning and common sense. Young people, possibly entering the workforce for the first time, are at an early stage in developing the necessary skills and awareness levels so employers need to pay special attention to them, particularly around their training and induction. Summer jobs are a fantastic way for teenagers to learn new skills and gain experience that will stand to them as adults. We want all young people to have fond memories of their early jobs so it’s vital that they and their employers are aware of the risks around workplace accidents and take the necessary precautions and safeguards.”
There is a lot of useful guidance and information for both employers and young workers to help reduce the risks at work can be found on the Authority’s website at www.hsa.ie/education Free health and safety courses on-line may be accessed by young people on the authority’s e-learning portal http://hsalearning.ie