Top tips for keeping young employees safe

Keeping your staff safe is a top priority for any employer but did you know that younger staff are more likely to be involved in an accident at work?

Of course, regardless of age employers are legally required to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees but statistics suggest that those in a new job are more likely to be involved in accidents within the first six months as during the entirety of their working lives, according to the HSE.

Here are our five top tips to help employers take measures to protect young employees and promote workplace safety:

  1. Double check the age of your younger employees

It’s important to know that employees have different employment rights from adult workers. They are subject to protection of the number of hours they can work so it’s worth checking child employment laws before you make a job offer. Keep birth certificates on file for all employees so you can refer to them at all times.

It’s worth noting a ‘young person’ is anyone under the age of 18, while a ‘child’ is an individual who has not yet reached the official minimum school leaving age. A child cannot work in an industrial environment like factories and construction sites, only as work experience.  

  • Conduct a detailed risk assessment

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, employers have a responsibility to ensure that young people are not exposed to workplace hazards due to lack of experience, lack of maturity or being unaware of existing or potential risks. Accordingly, employers should thoroughly review and update any workplace risk assessments.

When carrying out a risk assessment always be mindful that younger members of staff are more eager to impress and are more impressionable. Yet they may also lack concentration, confidence and are more easily fatigued. This makes younger employees more likely to have an accident. If they are performing tasks that are more hazardous, they must be supervised by a competent person and given adequate training that’s reasonably practicable.

  • Educate young employees on prohibited jobs and permitted schedule

Once a detailed risk assessment has been carried out, these findings should be relayed to all staff including younger members of the team. Although employers are responsible for compliance, young employees need to be informed of the rules that are in place to protect them such as how many hours they can work and the type of work they can carry out. Health and safety signage is always a good prompt for ongoing reminders.

  • Train young employees on job hazards and safety precautions

Research by Edinburgh University found that adolescent brains continue to develop into adulthood and don’t reach full maturity until approximately 25 years of age. Thus, younger employees won’t always see dangers that more experienced staff may be aware of so don’t assume that they are aware of hazards. Training is critical in helping to mitigate the risks.

  • Encourage young employees to highlight safety issues.

Younger members of staff may feel less confident about reporting health and safety issues so create a culture within your organisation that safety is a priority and feedback is welcomed. Also, safety representatives could be appointed within the business as a more approachable means to report potential safety hazards.

If you would like more information about keeping young employees safe, please contact the Sutcliffe & Co Team on 01905 21681 or alternatively email