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Work experience and health & safety

Current legislation places duties on employers to ensure that young persons employed by them are protected from any risks to their health or safety…

Current legislation under Regulation 19 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 places duties on employers to ensure that young persons employed by them are protected at work from any risks to their health or safety which are a consequence of their lack of experience, absence of awareness of risks or the fact they have not yet fully matured. This places a greater duty of care on the employer with respect to the work experience individual (WEI) over that of their own employees. To fulfil this duty a young person’s risk assessment is one of the key features of the process.

Recent guidance issued by the Health and Safety Executive aims to reduce this burden by allowing employers to avoid repeating a young person’s risk assessment, if the following apply:

The WEI is deemed to have similar maturity and understanding of the risks of the task as an employee and the WEI has no particular special needs.

The WEI will be working in a low-risk environment, such as office or shop, with everyday risks. In essence the amount of effort required to alleviate the risk would be proportional to the environment.

What does this mean for WEI’s?

The protection afforded by the regulations is unchanged.

What does this mean for employers?

Less bureaucracy, the administrative side of employing a WEI may be less arduous, dependent on the working environment, maturity and risk awareness of the WEI? However, the burden under Section 2 of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Regulation 19 of the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 is no less onerous. Hence, the employer would still need to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure the health & safety of the WEI.