Young people and health and safety at work?

Statistics show that people aged 18-24 are more likely to have a serious accident at work than older workers. Younger workers may be exposed to poor working conditions, leading to the development of occupational diseases even in their youth or later in life.

Young workers may lack experience, and often physical and mental maturity. They do not always take threats seriously. Other factors that put young people at greater risk include:

  • insufficient skills and training,
  • lack of awareness of their employer’s rights and obligations,
  • lack of confidence to express their opinions,
  • employers’ failure to see the need to provide additional protection for young workers.

EU-OSHA develops statistics, monitors risks to young people and promotes the exchange of good practices to ensure the protection of this age group in the workplace.

It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure the safety and health of workers, with a particular focus on young workers. The employment of a young person should be preceded by a risk assessment and the introduction of protection measures.

Young workers should be provided with adequate work, training and supervision. Employers should promote a strong safety culture and involve young workers in safety issues. Special rules apply to workers under the age of 18.

Council Directive 94/33/EC lays down the legal obligations of employers. These obligations are laid down in the laws of each Member State. National OSH organisations and trade unions are a good source of advice.


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