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Why are young people at risk in the workplace?

Why are young people at risk in the work place photo

Why are young people at risk in the workplace?

Young person definition.

Young people at work are mostly the people who are under 18. They are young people because of their age. The workers under 16 and 17 are regarded as young persons. But those between 14 and 15 are children. 

All employers have a responsibility over every young person working in their facility. The responsibilities include the health, safety and even the welfare of those workers. The young people have to work and still be alive for the next day’s work. 

Who is a young person from the World Health Organisation (WHO) point of view?

WHO defines young age group as individuals between the ages of 10 and 19. This age group is the adolescence period in the life of a human being. During the adolescent period, young people experience physical, intellectual, emotional and social development. The WHO also tag the young people between the ages of 15 and 24 as youth. 

Why are young people at risk in the workplace?

Most young persons are vulnerable to harm because of the factors below. 

  • They lack experience in the job due to their age.
  • They are most likely to have been engaged for the first time in an activity.
  • They are apprentice that is still learning work. 
  • They may be less aware of the risks involving a job that they are doing, and some of them lack maturity. 
  • They may even be unaware of how to raise a report concerning any issue.
  • They are eager to impress anyone around them. Some may not have the confidence to speak their mind concerning an issue.

Under 14 and 15 year-olds

By law, persons under 14 and 15 years are children and cannot engage in full-time jobs. There are specific measures to control them since they are under the young persons category. 

Under 16 and 17 year olds

Young persons in this age bracket can work a day for 8 hours and up to 40 hours a week. 

Young persons at work are at risk of the following hazards.

  • Exposure to violence and aggression.
  • Lone working 
  • Manual handling risk.
  • Use of medical devices and other equipment
  • Biological and chemical hazards exposures.
  • Use of display screen equipment.
  • Extreme heat
  • Noise
  • Working at heights
  • Vibration
  • Radiation.
  • Toxic substances

Young worker’s policy.

Organisations can decide to set up a young workers policy to cater for health and safety responsibilities and roles for young people at work. The policy will involve the risk of harm that young persons are exposed to while at work and the necessary control measures that the organisation is taking to control those risks of harm. 

Young people’s at-work roles and responsibilities

Young people at work have a responsibility to fulfil the following 

  • Attend safety induction before being employed.
  • Do not interfere with provisions of the health, safety and environment arrangements in place in the organisation.
  • Use of personal protective equipment given to them by the management.
  • Familiarise themselves with the health and safety policies in place.
  • Take reasonable care of the health and safety of persons affected by their work.

Young person at work risk assessment

Some organisations can provide a risk assessment targeted at young persons at work. The risk assessment will identify the risk of hazards to young persons and the mitigation measures that are put in place to control those risks. Identifying the risk may expose the company to look at the below topics.

  • The arrangement of the workstation.
  • Access to the workstation.
  • The current management to eliminate the existing exposure from physical, biological and chemical agents
  • The Lone working arrangement in place in the workplace
  • How they currently manage the workstation to eliminate risks from exposure to noise, vibration, stress, extreme heat, extreme cold and manual handling.

Protection of young persons (employment) Act 1996

Protection of Young Persons Employment Act 1996 was prepared by the Law Reform Commission by its function under the Law Reform Commission Act 1975(3/1975). The act offers protection for young persons who are working in an organisation. The act had so many sections and the few below.

  • Provision on employment of children.
  • Duties of Employer about Young Persons and Children
  • Employment of young persons.
  • Prohibition on Double Employment.
  • Employer records. 
  • Penalties.
  • Prosecutions, and so on.

Other Control measures for young persons at work against risk and hazards

Most persons young persons are at risk of harm. You can offer protection to them by performing the control measures as written below. 

  • Ensure you give them the requisite education before you engage them at work and gain sufficient knowledge of how to work safely without putting other people at risk.
  • Give them constant supervision when working so that they don’t behave unsafely.
  • Offer Mentoring to them to gather enough experience to work effectively.
  • Make sure you prepare them for work before you engage them.
  • Ensure that young persons get adequate instructions.
  • Ensure the carrying out of the risk assessment before any young person will work.
  • Ensure you set the maximum hours for every young person to work in your company.
  • Set specific rules that every young person under 18 should not engage in night work.
  • Ensure every young person displays their birth certificate before being employed on a project. 
  • Employers should keep a record of all young people at work with their details such as full name, date of birth, wage rate, starting time and closing time.


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