Employment of Children

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Due to the relative inexperience of such persons, particular care should be exercised through appropriate induction training, close supervision and the observance of certain particular legal requirements, in addition to the general provisions of Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc... Act 1974, and Regulation 19 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulation's 1999.

Provisional accident statistics for 1995-96 indicate that most of the 562 reported injuries to employed young persons in the local authority-enforced sector occurred in the retail, hotel and catering and consumer/leisure sectors (59%, 23% and 10% of the total, respectively). Although the majority (approx. 86%) were over-3-day injuries, some 80 (14%) were major injuries.

Information about accidents and injuries
Severity of injury Retail  Wholesale  Hotel & Catering Offices  Residential Care Homes  Consumer/
Fatal - 1 - - - - 1
Major  38 2 23 2 1 14 80
Over 3 day 292 21 109 8 6 45 481
Total  330 24 132 10 7 59 562

Young workers as employees

(i) Work Experience

The Education (Work Experience) Act 1973 provides for children who are in their last year of compulsory schooling to participate in work placement schemes approved by the Local Education Authority. The 1973 Act also exempts such schoolchildren who are under 16 from the restrictions of the Employment of Women, Young Persons and Children’s Act 1920. However, any legislation restricting the employment of persons over the minimum school leaving age does apply to them.
Under the Health and Safety (Training for Employment) Regulation's 1990 those receiving relevant training should be treated as employees for the purposes of health and safety legislation.

(ii) Government Training Schemes

The Health and Safety (Training for Employment) Regulation's 1990 extend the coverage of health and safety legislation to all those receiving ‘relevant training’ (this includes training schemes and work experience placements). Consequently, participants in many government schemes will be employees for health and safety purposes, unless the training is provided by an educational establishment as defined by the Regulation's.

Particular legal requirements

1. The Health and Safety (Young Persons) Regulation's 1997 introduced new requirements into the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulation's. As a result employers are required to:

  • assess risks to young people, under 18 years of age, before they start work
  • take into account their inexperience, lack of awareness of existing or potential risks, and immaturity
  • address specific factors in the risk assessment
  • provide information to parents of school-age children about the risk and the control measures introduced; and
  • take account of the risk assessment in determining whether the young person should be prohibited from certain work activities, except where they are over the minimum school leaving age and it is necessary for their training and:

(i) where risks are reduced so far as is reasonably practicable; and
(ii) where proper supervision is provided by a competent person.

Table 1 in HS(G) 165 gives extensive guidance on the type of work, nature of the risk and how to avoid it for significant risks in workplaces.

2. The Dangerous Machines (Training of Young Persons) Order 1954 prescribes dangerous machines, at which young persons (16-18 year olds) ought not to work unless they have received full instruction and sufficient training and are under adequate supervision by a knowledgeable/experienced person. The prescribed dangerous machines include dough brakes, dough mixers, meat mincing machines, pie and tart making machines, semi-automatic wood-turning lathes and guillotines.

3. Section 20 of the Factories Act 1961 prohibits a young person from cleaning any part of a prime mover or of any transmission machinery whilst in motion. Young persons also are prohibited from cleaning any part of any machine if that would expose them to risk of injury.

4. Under Reg. 13 of the Woodworking Machines Regulation's 1974 no person under 18 may operate certain machines unless they have successfully completed an approved training course. The machines are:-

1. a circular saw (including panel saw, dimension saw)
2. any other sawing machine fitted with a circular blade
3. a hand-fed surface planer (including a combined machine which is being used for surfacing); or
4. a vertical spindle moulder (including routers)
5. Children who are at school age are also required to be registered with Lancashire County Council Education Department.

Check-list - young workers

  1. Do you acknowledge the particular health and safety needs of young workers? YES NO
  2. Have you taken these needs into account when carrying out risk assessments before they start work? YES NO
  3. Have you provided parents of school-age children with information about the risk(s) and control measures introduced? YES NO
  4. Do you ensure suitable and sufficient induction training, and other relevant training? YES NO
  5. Do you provide appropriate information and instruction for young workers? YES NO
  6. Are young workers adequately supervised? YES NO

References/further details

  1. Children and Young Persons Act 1933-1963 (as amended by the Education Acts 1944 to 1976 and the Children Act 1972). This is available to download from this website.
  2. The Health and Safety at Work etc... Act 1974
  3. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulatons1999