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Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd


Focus Archive

Save our young people at work

November 2006

Organisations and individuals have been encouraged to get involved in the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work campaign - which culminated in the European Week 23-27 October 2006 to ensure that young people have a Safe Start to their working lives. It is NOT just for one week - everyone needs to be thinking about this all the time.

There are many useful websites to help - the Agency's and also has many ideas and suggestions and also make links to other organisations who are also involved.

Individual hazards and risks in different workplaces can be found on Many countries have their own guidance and advice also - and links are make to each European Member States and also to the other organisations worldwide who are all working towards improved health and safety standards in the workplace.

In the UK this year's campaign slogan is 'Safe Start' and is dedicated to the occupational safety and health of young people. These webpages contain helpful information for young people, employers, parents and supervisors of young people.

For this year's UK campaign the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is working in partnership with the Institution of Occupational Safety & Health (IOSH), Trades Union Congress (TUC), Learning and Skills Council (LSC), EEF, the Manufacturers' Organisation and the British Safety Council (BSC). See for details of links and further information.

To tie in with the Week the Brussels based the European Trade Union Institute ETUI-REHS Bilbao-based European Agency's European Week for Safety and Health at Work, running from 23 to 27 October 2006, the issue of HESAmail focuses on young workers. The special report in the forthcoming HESA Newsletter on "Young workers: health at risk!" takes a more in-depth look at the health and safety of this particularly vulnerable category of workers (subscription: Newsletter).

The following situations are highlighted in the HESAmail:

European Union: over 600,000 young people injured at work each year

Young people aged 18-24 across Europe are more likely to be injured in the workplace than more experienced workers. Eurostat reports that more than 650,000 workers in this age group suffered a work injury in the EU-15 in 2003.

In the same year, workers aged under 25, who make up just over 10% of the whole labour force, accounted for 16% of work accidents resulting in more than three days off work.

This excess work accident frequency rate has to be seen against the growing casualisation of young workers throughout Europe. In 2005, 43% of young employees were in contingent jobs compared to 12 % of those aged 25-54. And, in June 2006, under-25 unemployment stood at 17% in the EU-25, against 8% for the whole working population.

Quebec: young workers face more physical and organisational constraints

Young workers face more physical and organisational constraints than older workers. Researchers who looked at Quebec workers' exposure to a set of eleven physical and organisational constraints found that only 25% of under-25s faced none of them compared to 40% of workers aged 25 and over. 35% of young people under 35 worked irregular hours, and 14% of those in the same age group worked nights.

The 15-24 age group was most frequently exposed to physical constraints, especially the three most common in workplaces - repetitive work, manual handling of heavy loads, and strain from using tools or machinery.

Young workers are also most affected by combinations of constraints. More than 15% of workers aged 15-24 combine at least four work constraints, a percentage that falls below 10% for workers over 45.

Where psychosocial risks are concerned, the study reveals that 15-24-year-olds have been among those reporting the highest levels of psychological distress since 1998. (in French only)

United States: one in six teenaged workers injured at work

On average, one teenaged American worker in six is injured in a work accident, reveals a recently published survey in the American Journal of Health Behavior. The findings were made in a questionnaire survey of more than 6,800 teenage students in the state of Wisconsin, just over half of whom had a job. 514 reported having suffered a work-related injury, which in 150 cases resulted in being off work for more than three days. Only 97 had made any attempt to get compensation.

The survey findings clearly show that work-related injuries among young people are a serious public health problem", said the survey's authors. On average, 70 children die each year as the result of a work accident in the United States.

American Journal Health Behaviour, 2006; 30(5): 525-532

The ILO report that more than 200 million children forced to work in the world

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that 218 million children aged 5-17 across the world are trapped in child labour, of whom 127 million are subjected to the worst forms of exploitation. Africa has close to 50 million child workers, second to Asia with 123 million. Sub-Saharan Africa holds the greatest share of economically active children - more than 26% of all 5-14-year-olds.

50,000 children are also forced into prostitution and the production of pornography in Africa. Armed conflicts are another concerning issue, with 120 000 children under 18 forcibly recruited to act as soldiers, bearers, messengers, cooks or sex slaves.

The ILO's new Global Report on Child Labour, entitled "The end of child labour: Within reach",

United Kingdom: work accidents kill one young person a month

Nearly 4,500 young workers are seriously injured or killed at work each year in the United Kingdom, according to a study by the British trade union confederation, the TUC. It is a rising trend. The TUC reports that the number of accidents suffered by young workers is 20% higher than five years ago.

One worker aged under 25 is killed in a workplace accident each month, reveals the TUC. The trade union confederation reports that 4,424 young workers (aged 16-24) were seriously injured at work in 2004-2005, compared to 2,656 in 2000-2001. 15,000 had to be signed off work for more than three days. The figures also show that 46 under-18s were killed in farm accidents over the past 11 years.

Protect young workers where ever you are in the world for more links to health and safety information see