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WORK EXPERIENCE RISK ASSESSMENT REQUIREMENTS

Government encourages employers to offer more WE placements   

Ministers have announced the “latest stage of the Government’s commitment to debunking health and safety myths and slashing burdensome rules” by plans to make it as easy as possible for employers to take on work experience students.

The government believes employers have been “hampered in the past” by thinking that they have to do special risk assessments for young people. HSE has now published new information explaining arrangements for the safety of work experience students.

The guidance stresses that under health and safety law work experience students are employees to be treated no differently to other young people employed. 

See the new list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

HSE state that an existing employers’ liability insurance policy (ELCI) will cover work placements provided the insurer is a member of the Association of British Insurers.

Construction requires some additional actions 

For a placement in a higher-risk environment such as construction, agriculture and manufacturing HSE advise that you will need to:

  1. Specific work – consider what work the student will be doing or observing, the risks involved and how these are managed;
  2. Training and supervision – satisfy yourself that the instruction, training and supervisory arrangements have been properly thought through and that they work in practice;

You may also need to consider specific factors that must be managed for young people, including exposure to radiation, noise and vibration, toxic substances, or extreme temperatures.

Where these specific factors exist you should already have control measures in place and need to consider whether you need to do anything further to control the risks to young people.

HSE Chair Judith Hackitt said:

“Introducing students to the world of work can help them understand the work environment, choose future careers or prepare for employment. It can take the form of a short, or longer, placement with a placement provider (employer) where they will have the opportunity to observe and practice work tasks.

But work placement arrangements are too often seen as over-bureaucratic and burdensome, putting off potential employers. We must tackle this and stop over-interpretation of the law.

The effectiveness of the employer’s risk management arrangements is what matters. Employers should already be managing the risks in their workplaces and are best placed to assess whether or not they need to do anything additional for a new young person joining them.

Schools and colleges, or those organising placements, should simply ask sensible questions, in proportion to the level of risk, to satisfy themselves that those arrangements are in place. They should not be second-guessing employers’ risk assessments or requiring additional paperwork.

An appreciation of risk and how to deal with it can be one of the biggest benefits offered by a placement. We need young people (those under 18) to be offered opportunities to develop new skills and gain experience across the world of work.”

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