Guidance for firms offering summer work experience to under 18s

Are you one of the many employers considering hosting young people on work experience to coincide with school and college summer holidays? The HSE has published simplified guidance for employers on ensuring the health and safety of young people on a work placement.

Your business will reap real benefits by offering work experience to under 18s, such as developing the supervisory and management skills of your workforce and enhancing your public profile by supporting your local community.

Work experience is also an effective means of introducing young people to the world of work and improving their understanding of the work environment. They can gain practical experience in their chosen industry and acquire valuable employment skills. However an appreciation of workplace risk and how to deal with it can be one of the biggest benefits offered by a work placement.

HSE leaflet INDG364(rev1) explains what employers are supposed to do with regard to the health and safety management of a young person (defined as anyone under the age of 18) on work experience, particularly in respect of training and supervision.

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, employers have a responsibility to ensure that young people employed are not exposed to risk due to:

• lack of experience;
• being unaware of existing or potential risks;
• lack of maturity.

Taking on work experience students should be straightforward and should not be about generating unnecessary paperwork. The main thrust of the HSE guidance is simply to use existing arrangements for assessing and managing risks to young people. Your arrangements should, however, recognise that the young person’s physical and psychological capacity may not be the same as for an adult, so allowances may need to be made.

Aegis staff assist companies by ensuring that the general arrangements for assessing risk are suitable and flexible enough for circumstances such as work experience. We can also help in preparing specific risk assessments if required.