Keeping Young People Safe at Work
Sheila Pantry OBE
Young people are especially vulnerable in the workplace. Across Europe, 18-24 year olds
are at least 50% more likely to be hurt at work than older people, and young people are
also more likely to suffer from an occupational illness says the European Agency for
Safety and Health at Work.
According to Canadian research, young, inexperienced workers are over five times more likely to be injured during their first four weeks of employment than other workers. And it's not just accidents that young workers are vulnerable to: they are also at risk from more slowly-developing occupational health problems.
So despite the worldwide recession there will be many young people starting work across all industries and services and they must be trained to be able to avoid accidents and ill health. Behind the statistics are individual stories. Young people having to live with the consequences of accidents and illness. Young people dying who had their whole lives ahead of them.
There are many reasons why young workers are at risk. But they are all things that we can do something about. Employers, educators, health and safety professionals, policy makers, and young workers themselves - all have a responsibility to help keep young people safe and healthy.
See all the Agency publications on Young People
Why are young people vulnerable?
New to the job and new to the workplace, young people lack experience, and may not pay enough attention to the risks that they face:
- they may lack physical and psychological maturity
- they may lack skills and training
- they may be unaware of their employer's duties, and their own rights and responsibilities
- they may lack confidence in speaking out if there's a problem
For their part, employers may fail to take account of the vulnerability of young people, by providing them with the training, supervision and safeguards that they need, and giving them work that is appropriate for them.
The risks young people face
The exact risks that they face depend on the type of work that they are doing. Common risks include:
- slips and trips
- dangerous equipment
- lifting loads
- fast, repetitive work
- work in awkward positions
- noise and vibration
- exposure to chemicals, radiation, extreme heat or cold
- violence from members of the public
So everyone needs to play a part in keeping young workers safe and healthy as they start their working careers.
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Globally new titles, news items, new products are being produced so remember to look at the News to find the latest information from a number of sources. Use OSHWORLD as your portal to many hundreds of validated and authoritative web sites that you can find in the Country and Subject links we offer. New subject topics are constantly brought together on web sites, e.g. swine flu.
The Focus this month looks at Promoting quality at work: information for safe, healthy and productive jobs.
Worldwide, plans have been made already up to 2010 to have training courses, symposiums and conferences in many places in the world on a wide range of subjects. Look at the latest additions to the Diary of Events. Don't forget to budget for these events - make sure that you and your colleagues are up-to-date with the very latest knowledge - remember that all workplaces and those working in them change, so continue to do your risk assessments.
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Keeping up-to-date in fire information despite the turbulent times...
So do you want to keep up-to-date in worldwide occupational health, safety, hygiene, road safety, water safety, environment trends and fire latest information? Do budget constraints not allow you to buy all the journals, newsletters and documents that contain the latest information? Can't afford the time to search for the latest information, legislation and standards? No staff to search for this information? And no time yourself to spend hours searching for information?
It is always good to keep researching and finding out if there are services and other ways of keeping up-to-date in this fast changing world of ours. Time is precious and many people are really stretched in their jobs and find it difficult to keep ahead in current knowledge that they should have for their jobs. But help is at hand for those working in health, safety and fire and fire related industries.
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Don't work harder - work smarter! Be ahead of the game.
Well did you have a zero accident, incident-free and healthy year in 2008 in your workplace? Some would argue that this is not possible! But keep on trying again in 2009!
And do continue to make plans for your campaigns for 2010 and beyond!