Work experience placements offer young people valuable insight into working life, help them decide on future careers and improve their understanding of risk.
In the UK a young person is anyone under 18 and a child is anyone who has yet to reach the minimum school leaving age. Pupils reach the minimum school leaving age in the school year in which they turn 16, and are now required to follow some kind of further education until the age of 18.
By law an employer must ensure that young people are not exposed to risk due to lack of experience, being unaware of existing or potential risks and / or a lack of maturity.
Employers need to consider whether the work:
- Is beyond their physical or psychological capacity.
- Involves harmful exposure to substances that are toxic, can cause cancer, can damage or harm an unborn child or can chronically affect human health in any other way, including harmful exposure to radiation.
- Involves risks of accidents that cannot reasonably be recognised or avoided by young people due to their insufficient attention to safety or lack of experience or training.
A child must never carry out such work involving these risks, whether they are permanently employed or on work experience. However a young person who is not a child can carry out duties involving these risks if the work is necessary for their training, they are properly supervised by a competent person, and the risks are reduced to the lowest level so far as is reasonably practicable.
Remember when carrying out a risk assessment for young people the risks will possibly be different to the main work force who will have worked for some years and in a particular industry or type of work.
Businesses are often confused as to whether they can safely have a young person on a work experience placement. They are fearful and unsure as to what sort of environment they can put a young person in and instead of following guidance
and saying ‘yes we might be able to put them here, but we do not want to put them there or there, they just say we cannot do it at all because of the rules and regulations.’
Are you fully covered?
Providing that you have employers’ liability insurance a young person carrying out the same work as other members of your work force is covered in the same way, but if you have queries check with your insurance company.