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Government Allays Work Experience Health And Safety Fears
Posted by David Cant on July 1, 2013
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Health and Safety Services BirminghamWe’ve mentioned in previous posts about how health and safety can sometimes get a bad press, and nowhere has this concern been more of a problem than in the world of work experience.

Fortunately the Government has recently announced changes to eradicate many of these issues.

No one can deny the importance of work experience for young people still in the world of education. Facts and figures learnt within the four walls of a classroom are hugely valuable, but work experience offers young people much more, including an understanding of how the world of work differs in so many ways from the world of school which they have known virtually all their life.

It’s important for young people to experience the world of work within the sort of industry they have an interest in, helping to motivate them to achieving well in school or helping them revise or adjust their long term career choices.

Serious Issues For Schools, Colleges And Businesses

But for many years now there has been an issue. Business, companies and industries have been closing the door on young people, and opting out of offering work experience placements. This hasn’t been because businesses don’t recognise the value of offering young people such opportunities, they certainly do, but the problem has been health and safety.

The amount of red tape involved has been choking the world of work experience, making it difficult for schools, colleges and businesses. From the point of view of schools and colleges it has often been a nightmare trying to carry out health and safety evaluations and creating customised policies based on a whole plethora of different business environments each year.

For businesses it has often been very difficult for them to try to implement health and safety evaluations and procedures for every single student who walks in through their door, with companies’ insurance policies anxiously checking and double checking details, policies and procedures at every stage along the way.

Government Introduces Common Sense Solutions

In response to these issues the Government has recently announced a number of changes to the way in which health and safety is implemented throughout the process of getting students out into work experience positions in business and industries. These new changes include:

  • A commitment from the Association of British Insurers to businesses advising them that they do not have to take out special insurance policies to cover students on work experience, as well as providing reassurance that their premiums will not be affected by opting to take on students in such positions
  • Removing from schools and colleges the responsibility for carrying out health and safety checks for students, with these being the responsibility of the business
  • New guidance which removes from businesses the need to carry out repeated health and safety checks for every new student placement, with one check only being required
  • Guidance for businesses which advises that work placement students need only be treated as though they were new employees as far as health and safety checks, policies and protocols are concerned, significantly reducing the previous burden

It is clear that these changes will significantly decrease the burden on businesses, and removing concerns over insurance premiums. It will also relieve schools and colleges from a huge workload which was previously causing work placements to be very limited or removed entirely.

Judith Hackitt, Chair of the Health and Safety Executive, said, “Work experience is an important step in preparing young people for the world of work. Our revised guidance makes it clear – and easy – for employers and work experience organisers to understand what they need to do.

“There is no need for lots of paperwork or an over-cautious approach. Employers who are already managing the risks in their business effectively for employees are unlikely to need to do anything in addition for work experience. Schools and colleges just need to ask a few questions to ascertain that appropriate measures are in place. There is no need to conduct their own risk assessments.”

If your business or organisation is considering offering work experience placements for young people then call one of our specialist health and safety advisors today on 0800 1488 677 who will be able to help advise on the best way of carrying out a health and safety check which bears young people in mind appropriately.


David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner extraordinaire. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the MD of Veritas Consulting. David also Blogs about Health and Safety here Health and Safety Consultants

His aim is to flavour Health and Safety with integrity, served with a side of humour You can find David on - Twitter and Google also Linkedin

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