The saying ‘You’ve got youth on your side’ unfortunately cannot be applied to young employees, among whom accident claim rates for injuries sustained at work are disproportionately high.
Figures from the British Safety Council show that 88 young people between the ages of 16 and 24 have been killed at work in the UK in the last five years (excluding work-related transport deaths).
Male workers in the construction and agriculture industries are most at risk, with these two sectors accounting for nearly 50% of fatalities in this age range.
Of the 88 young workers fatally injured at work, 84 of these were male.
But why are young people entering the working world at more risk of sustaining a minor, major or fatal workplace injury?
Shift work – Young people are more likely to take on shift, casual and part-time work than their peers, for which they are likely to receive less training or less supervision.
Inexperienced – Experience comes with climbing the job ladder, but young people on the bottom rung have minimal training, skills and experience suited to the job leaving them more open to accidents. They may also be less likely to notice, or less willing to point out a workplace hazard.
Physical work – Young people in the construction or manufacturing industry might be asked to carry out a lot of the physical work, which can increase the risk of injury.
The HSE Work Regulations require that young people are protected at work from the risks of:
• work that is beyond their physical or psychological capacity;
• too fast or too slow pace of work;
• exposure to extreme temperature, noise or vibration;
• exposure to radiation;
• compressed air and diving;
• hazardous substances; and
• any likelihood of an accident which they will not recognise due to their lack of training and experience.
From unfamiliar risks in a new workplace environment to lacking the confidence to ask for help, there are a number of reasons young people are potentially more at risk of sustaining an injury in the workplace.
If you feel your health and safety is at risk, always talk to your employer before it turns into anything more serious. If you do have an accident at work, and blame or negligence can be proved to lie with another party, we can pursue a workplace accident claim on your behalf.