Health and safety for young people about to start work

We've put together the following information which we hope contains some useful information for young people about to start work.

Young people have a higher rate of accidents than other workers.

European statistics suggest the incidence of non-fatal accidents at work is at least 50 per cent higher among those aged 18 to 24 years than in any other age category.

The following factors are likely to play a part in this significant higher accident rate.

The young person factor

Young people are less likely to recognise the risk of accidents or ill health than older workers for a number of reasons. If they do recognise the risks they may be less able to take appropriate action, and physically or mentally less able to carry out certain tasks or work.

Factors include:

  • lack of awareness of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH)
  • inexperience and unfamiliarity with the job they are doing, and their surroundings
  • lack of skill/training in the job they are doing
  • physically or mentally immature
  • being given jobs that are beyond their capabilities
  • lack of OSH information/training
  • lack of awareness of employers duties and their own rights and responsibilities
  • not paying enough attention to health and safety, and high risk-taking behaviour among some young people
  • lack of confidence to raise OSH issues.

The employer factor

  • lack of awareness that young people have less experience, skill and training about OSH and about the job they are doing
  • giving young workers jobs beyond their capabilities
  • not providing adequate information, instruction and training
  • not providing adequate supervision on the job − young people are likely to need more supervision than older workers
  • not taking account of young workers during risk assessment
  • recruiters not knowing how to gauge the suitability of a job for young persons.

Structural employment factors

There are various features in the employment circumstances of some young people that are related to poorer OSH, for example:

  • temporary contracts
  • part-time work
  • low-paid work where no or limited training is provided
  • jobs where there is a high staff turnover rate
  • unskilled work
  • low/precarious status − so in a weak position to complain of problems
  • lower rate of trade union membership
  • work in small businesses and some sectors where there is a poorer safety culture
  • vulnerable to harassment and bullying from colleagues because of their low status or because they are new.

The information provided on these pages will not make you a health and safety expert but will hopefully give you sufficient information to keep you safe and give you the confidence to ask questions if necessary.

Related documents

The following documents are in Portable Document Format (PDF). You can download software to view PDF documents for free from the Adobe website (opens in a new window)

The following document is in PowerPoint format. You can download software to view PowerPoint presentations for free from the PowerPoint viewer page (opens in a new window) of the Microsoft website.

Information on other websites