‘DON’T LET YOUR FIRST JOB BE YOUR LAST’ – TUC warns young summer workers

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DON’T let your first job be your last, TUC warned young summer workers yesterday.

As four million under 25 year olds go to work this summer and over 250,000 start their first job, the TUC yesterday warned them to make sure they don’t become one of the 16-24 year olds seriously injured at work every 40 minutes in the UK or killed at a rate of one every month.

An exposé published by Hazards magazine today shows that over 4000 young people (16-24 yrs) are seriously injured at work every year, 12 are killed (2004/5, 16 in 2003/4) and 15,000 are injured badly enough to be forced off work for more than three days.

Despite stricter health and safety rules for the youngest workers, 16-24 year olds are at risk because their employers fail to take account of their lack of workplace experience and training, says the report.

‘Too young to die’ includes a number of tragic case studies ranging from a 17 year old boy who fell to his death from unsafe scaffolding to teenagers suffering serious burns and amputations in workplace accidents that could have been avoided (summaries below).

The report also sets out the legal protections that employers, young workers and their parents should be aware of.

This summer the Local Government Association (LGA) are backing the TUC’s ‘don’t make this your last summer – work safe’ message as councils across the country are taking measures to ensure young people are employed safely including spot-checks on employers and local awareness campaigns.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: ‘Summer jobs are a great way for young people to gain some extra cash and important work and life experience. But they are not worth dying for.

‘No young person should die or be seriously injured this summer because their employer failed to take simple steps to ensure their safety. And no young person’s first job should be their last.’

Hazards editor Rory O’Neill said: ‘It’s a myth that young workers are killed or injured because they goof around or because they are immature. They are at risk because they are inexperienced. The newer you are to the job, regardless of your age, the higher the risk.

‘Every 40 minutes of every working day, seven days a week, a preventable workplace accident maims or kills a young worker.

‘This is the wholly predictable consequence of placing a novice in what is a frequently hostile and often hazardous workplace environment without the necessary training and supervision.’

Cllr James Kempton, vice chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: ‘Councils want young people to work safely and legally over the summer. Employers who flout the law, and parents who turn a blind eye to them doing so, need to understand that authorities are willing to take a firm stance on this issue.’

The facts from ‘Too young to die’ featured in Hazards magazine are:

• In Britain a worker aged 16-24 suffers a reported workplace injury requiring more than three days off work every 12 minutes of every working day. One young worker is seriously injured at work every 40 minutes and every month one is killed.

• In 2004/5 12 workers aged 16-24 were killed at work (16 in 2003/4) and provisional figures show 4,389 suffered major injury (4,331 in 2003/4) and 14,954 were injured badly enough to be off work for three days (15,973 in 2003/4). Many incidents will be going unreported so will not be included in these statistics.

• Due to inexperience and lack of training 20-24 year olds in the UK have a higher reported accident rate than most other age groups and across Europe 18-24 year olds are 50 per cent more likely to be injured in the workplace than more experienced employees.

• There are just under four million 16-24 year olds at work in the UK (3.85 million). Half a million of these are aged 16-17, 1.75 million are aged 18-21, and over 250,000 are starting work for the first time.

• Just under a million young workers are in insecure or temporary employment in which they are less likely to receive health and safety training. Previous TUC research found that over one third of 15-24 year olds had received little or no health and safety training.

‘Too young to die’ features a case study dossier of the preventable work deaths of 10 young people and 5 serious injuries that could have been avoided. Detailed summaries at:

http://www.hazards.org/youngworkers/#dossier

The ten young people dead before their time are:

Steven Burke, killed aged 17, fall from scaffold;

Daniel Dennis, killed aged 17, fall from roof;

Mark Fiebig, killed aged 21, fatigue related road accident;

Craig Gowans, killed aged 17, soccer apprentice electrocuted;

Lewis Murphy, killed aged 18, burned in a garage fireball;

Ionit Simionica, killed aged 22, crushed by crypt wall;

Christopher Kesterton, killed aged 16, crushed by a falling structure;

Jimmy Hall, killed aged 21, crushed by falling equipment;

Ben Pinkham, killed aged 21, burned in a solvent explosion;

Steven Parsons, killed aged 18, crushed under a car.

The five serious injuries featured are:

Robert Haywood, 18, fingers amputated;

Paul Lee Jarman, 23, multiple injuries;

Farm worker, 16, leg amputated;

Samuel Phillips, 16, crushed;

Leonardo Viera, teenager, serious burns.

‘Too young to die’ also features information on young workers and the law

All employees have the legal right to a safe and healthy workplace and safety information, training and supervision. Employees under 18 have further protections:

• Employers must conduct a risk assessment before hiring a young worker to determine any risks to their health and whether they are suited to the work. It must take into account their lack of workplace experience.

• Workers aged 16-17 must have twelve consecutive hours of rest in a 24 hr period and a rest of no less than 48 hrs in every 7 day period. Under 18s are also unable to opt-out of the 48 hour maximum working week (averaged over 17 weeks).

• Young workers are usually prevented from working nights (10pm-7am), although there are many exemptions for sectors in which a lot of young people work such as hospitals (or similar establishments) and cultural, artistic, sporting or advertising activities and in agriculture, retail, hotel or catering, restaurants and bars, bakeries or postal and newspaper deliveries, where they can work up to midnight or from 4am.

• Young workers who are seafarers, in sea fishing or part of the armed forces are covered by different arrangements.