However, their capabilities are generally less developed than those of experienced and mature employees and their individual characteristics must be taken into account. Young people new to the workplace environment outside the education system may be eager to impress or please others, but they can’t be expected to be aware of the hazards and potential risks to themselves or others.
There’s a wide range of legislation concerning the health, safety and welfare of young people and there’s a special focus on the provision of information, training and supervision to meet their particular needs.
A young person can’t be employed for work which is beyond their physical or psychological capacity, or work which involves:
- harmful exposure to radiation or toxic or carcinogenic agents that might cause heritable (genetic) damage or chronic health problems;
- a risk of accidents they may not be able to appropriately recognise or avoid, due to their lack of experience, knowledge or training; or
- a risk to their health from extreme cold or heat, noise or vibration.
There can be exceptions to these prohibitions where it’s necessary they carry out the work for their training, provided the young person is supervised by a competent person, and any risk is reduced to the lowest level reasonably practicable.
This risk topic looks at the more common hazards that should be considered to safeguard the health and safety of anyone under the age of 18, and above the minimum school leaving age (MSLA; fixed at the last Friday in June of the school year (1 September to 31 August) in which the child reaches the age of 16). Our risk topic page on employing children provides guidance about the health and safety at work of a child below the MSLA and students involved in work experience.