Who Are Your Vulnerable Workers?

HSE defines vulnerable workers as those who are at risk of having their workplace entitlements denied and those who lack the capacity or means to secure them. 

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Health and safety should not be used as an excuse to justify discriminating against certain groups of workers.


2% of the UK working age population becomes disabled every year.  A disability is a physical or mental impairment which has substantial and long term adverse effects on the ability to carry out normal day to day activities H&S legislation should not prevent disabled people finding or staying in employment and should not be used as a false excuse to justify discriminating against disabled workers.


A person’s gender can affect the hazards they face at work. Women make up 42% of the employed population in the EU; the jobs they do, their working conditions and how they are treated by society can affect the hazards they face at work and the approach that needs to be taken to assess and control them.

New to the job

People are at particular risk of injury in the first six months of a job as they may be unaware of existing or potential risks.   The extra risk arises due to lack of experience, lack of familiarity with the job and work environment, reluctance to  (or lack of knowledge of how to) raise concerns and eagerness to impress.


Todays workforce is likely to contain a higher proportion of older workers because of factors such as increased life expectancy, removal of the default retirement age and   raising of the State Pension age. Employers have the same responsibilities for the health and safety of older employees as they have for all their employees.

 When employing a young person under the age of 18, whether for work, work experience or as an apprentice, employers have the same responsibilities for their health, safety and welfare as they do for other employees.

Race and migrant workers

In seeking to protect the health and safety of all workers it is known that race is an important factor, particularly in terms of differences in vulnerability, the networks and channels of communications, and language.  The law requires that employers provide workers with comprehensible and relevant information about risks and about the procedures they need to follow to ensure they can work safely and without risk to health.  This does not have to be in English. 

Need help in assessing health and safety risk in your business?  Get in touch and book a one hour FREE health and safety consultation with one of our experts by calling 01722 326 390.