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A waste management company has been prosecuted after a worker was left with life changing injuries.
Chippenham Magistrates Court heard how the 19-year-old worker and his colleagues had cleared a blockage from the waste picking line, when his gloved hand got caught in the conveyor belt. The roller fractured his right hand, dislocated his wrist and radius and he had to spend two weeks in hospital following the incident.
The investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that there was no effective guarding around the conveyor belt to prevent workers hands being caught up in the mechanism.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and were fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,549.53 and a victim surcharge of £170.
HSE Inspector Tania Nickson, said “A young workers life was changed forever because a company failed to ensure there was the correct guarding in place on a conveyor belt. A year after the incident he still requires medical treatment and is unlikely to gain full use of his right hand. All companies that work with dangerous machinery can learn from this case – straightforward precautions protect workers safety.”
Young people at work
When employing a young person under the age of 18, whether for work, work experience, or as an apprentice, employers have the same responsibilities for their health, safety and welfare as they do for other employees.
Does an employer have to carry out a separate risk assessment for a young person?
While there is no requirement for an employer to carry out a separate risk assessment specifically for a young person, if they haven’t previously employed a young person they should review their risk assessment and take into account the specific factors for young people, before a young person starts with them.
What if a young person doesn’t feel confident about raising a health and safety concern with their employer?
Many workplaces should have an appointed safety representative. This will be an employee who should be able to provide advice and information about health and safety matters. This might include identifying any health and safety problems and/or developing suitable solutions.
Does an employer need to have Employers’ Liability Compulsory Insurance (ELCI) in place before they employ a young person?
Most employers are required by law to insure against liability for injury or disease to their employees. Those who are currently exempt include:
- family businesses, where all employees are closely related to the employer, unless the business is incorporated as a limited company
- sole traders
However, if a family business takes on an employee who is not closely related to the employer, or if a sole trader takes on an employee, then there is a requirement for them to have ELCI.
Find out more about getting insurance for your business: http://www.hse.gov.uk/simple-health-safety/get.htm
How does an employer avoid putting a young person at risk due to their physical limitations?
Young people may be more at risk as their muscle strength may not be fully developed and they may be less skilled in handling techniques or in pacing the work according to their ability. When assessing a young person’s physical capability, it could be as simple as asking yourself the question ‘can a still developing young person be expected to lift the weights my older, more experienced employees can?’
How do I assess a young person’s psychological capability?
This doesn’t have to be a complicated process. It could be as straightforward as making sure a young person understands what is expected of them, checking they understand and are able to remember and follow instructions. It is important that young people are given the necessary training and supervision.
What constitutes harmful exposure?
Harmful exposure means exposure that has long-term health effects on a still-developing young body. An employer should be aware of the substances a young person might come into contact with in their business and will need to consider exposure levels and ensure legal limits are met.
Find out more about workplace exposure limits: http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/basics/exposurelimits.htm
Can a young person be employed to work with ionising radiation?
There is no regulatory requirement that prevents young people, including those below the age of 16, from working with ionising radiation as long as their exposure is restricted so far as reasonably practicable and does not exceed the dose limit of 1 mSv in any calendar year.
Find out more about radiation and information on dose limits: http://www.hse.gov.uk/radiation/index.htm
How do I take account of a young person’s lack of maturity, lack of risk awareness, insufficient attention to safety and their lack of experience or training?
For many young people the workplace will be a new environment and they will be unfamiliar with ‘obvious’ risks and the behaviour expected of them in response.
Young people might need additional support to allow them to carry out their work without putting themselves and others at risk, and this might mean more tailored training and/or closer supervision. Regularly checking a young person’s progress will help identify where any additional adjustments may be needed. This is also why it’s often appropriate to put age limits on the use of some equipment and machinery, as is the case for forklift trucks and some woodworking machinery.
Find out more about training and supervision: http://www.hse.gov.uk/youngpeople/training.htm
Find out more about how to protect workers who are new to the job: http://www.hse.gov.uk/vulnerable-workers/new-to-the-job.htm
Are young people at more risk of exposure to extreme temperature, noise or vibration?
Exposure to extremes of any of these hazards carry risks for workers of all ages and could lead to health issues.
To avoid risks to young people from all these factors, employers need to comply with relevant legislation and consider a risk control programme which might include:
- limiting time/level of exposure
- providing information training and supervision
- provision of protective equipment
- health surveillance
For workplaces that include these hazards an employer should already have the necessary control measures in place
Further information can be found on the HSE website for temperature, noise and vibration.
I understand there has been a change to the official statutory school leaving age, rising to age 17 in 2013, with a further rise to 18 from 2015. Is this correct and does this mean that the definition of a child has changed?
No changes are being made to the statutory school leaving age. The change is to the participation age. Young people are now required to participate in some form of education or training (which could be full-time education, an apprenticeship or full-time employment with training alongside) for longer.
Pupils who left year 11 in summer 2013 need to continue in education or training for at least a further year until 27 June 2014 and pupils starting year 11 or below in September 2013 will need to continue until at least their 18th birthday. This will not impact on health and safety legislation and guidance and the definition of a child remains unchanged.
The Department for Education provides information on school leaving age https://www.gov.uk/know-when-you-can-leave-school and the latest information on participation age https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/raising-the-participation-age
For more information visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/youngpeople/ or contact us on 07896 016380, and we’ll be happy to help.
Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence