An inquiry into the health and safety arrangements for apprentices by RoSPA’s National Occupational Safety and Health Committee (NOSHC), found a lack of safety information by companies. The two main reasons cited included a lack of data, and a misunderstanding of who a “typical” apprentice is.
Much of the safety advice currently available assumes that an apprentice will be aged 24 or under, male, and working in a manual trade, whereas a recent House of Commons paper shows that the typical apprentice is 25 or older, female, and in the service sector.
With the number of apprentices in the UK set to triple to 3 million by 2020, NOSHC has now pledged to work with multidisciplinary partnerships to extend and enhance available information.
Dr Karen McDonnell, RoSPA’s occupational safety and health policy adviser, said: “Safe and healthy work at all ages is fundamentally important – it is essential that employees at every stage of their working life are targeted with the right information at the right time.
“NOSHC believes that compiling data by age and across a range of industries, instead of conflating statistics, will be a good start.
“There is also a need for health and safety advice for those placing trainees, guidance for schools for engaging the future workforce early – including in traineeships – and targeted health-specific advice for those apprentices with disabilities.”
Lara Murray, a health and safety legal expert with Palmers said: “From April 2017, the new Apprenticeship Levy comes into force so now is a good time to think about all issues relating to the employment of apprentices including making sure that they are protected in the workplace.
“Sadly there have been a number of instances involving serious injury and even loss of life where an individual was either on work experience, serving an apprenticeship or inadequately trained to do the job. Most employers understand their duties and responsibilities regarding the training of new workers but it is always worth ensuring that your training manuals and workplace safety guidelines are up to date and regularly check to ensure they are compliant.”
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