Ensuring apprentices are kitted out correctly
10 September 2016 | Geoff
Employers have a duty to ensure the health and safety of their entire workforce, whether that means providing the right safety workwear, guidance or training to keep them protected from harm.
However, new findings from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) have suggested that apprentices in particular may not be getting the overall support they require.
An inquiry by the body’s National Occupational Safety and Health Committee has revealed a lack of data means there is a dearth of safety information for companies, as well as a misunderstanding on who a typical apprentice is.
According to the report, much of the available advice suggests the typical apprentice is 24 or under, male and involved in manual trades. In contrast, a recent government paper has indicated that they are in fact 25 or older, female and in the service sector.
All of this adds up to a concerning conclusion – how can businesses provide relevant guidance, safety worker and equipment to keep apprentices safe if, ultimately, they do not know who they are?
In light of the findings, work is now underway to tackle the information gaps and improve the state of play when it comes to helping apprentices. With the number of apprentices in the UK expected to reach three million in the next four years, there is a pressing need for change.
Dr Karen McDonnell, occupational safety and health policy adviser at RoSPA, said: “It is essential that employees at every stage of their working life are targeted with the right information at the right time.
“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.”
RoSPA recently unveiled a new brand identity and among the changes is the introduction of the strapline ‘accidents don’t have to happen’ – created to tackle the perception that some incidents are unavoidable.
With this research on apprentices, the body has sent out an important reminder that younger workers cannot be forgotten when it comes to this issue.