RR1061 – Employers perceptions of the health and safety of young workers

The aim was to investigate perceptions and attitudes about health and safety and the employment of young
people. The work involved a review of published documents and interviews with 14 representatives from
employer organisations, schools/academies, work placement organisers and insurers.

No documents were found that examined employers’ views about young workers and health and safety.
However, evidence was found within published documents that links increase of injury in young workers,
and a lack of work experience and training, poor awareness of occupational risks, inadequate supervision,
and possible lack of physical and/or psychological maturity. Interviewees perceived that all environments
can present a risk if a worker lacks relevant experience or awareness of them.

When taking on a young person, interviewees considered age to be less important than experience and
ability. Misperceptions were found to exist about the health and safety considerations that need to be
made for young people when they enter the workforce. There were also some perceptions that employers
may hide behind health and safety and insurance as excuses for not employing young people, when a more
likely reason is that they perceive a young person to be a burden and an additional cost.

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Article source: http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrhtm/rr1061.htm