Bosses risk lives over saftey

Article date: 12 July 2000

BRITAIN’S bosses may be putting teenagers’ lives atrisk by breaking the law on health and safety procedures, a surveyshows today.

Four in five small businesses don’t carry out the correcthealth and safety procedures for workers under the age of 18,according to an independent survey commissioned by insurer NorwichUnion.

And ninety percent of bosses taking part in the survey admitthey take on young workers even though they don’t think theyoungsters are totally ready for the world of work.

Between 1998 and 1999, 20 young people were killed and more than20,000 suffered injuries at work in Great Britain. And the NorwichUnion study highlights the employers’ confusion in helpingprevent these accidents.

Norwich Union’s ‘Dying to Start Work’ studyalso suggests that:

  • Four in five employers blame schools for ill-preparing theirpupils for the workplace
  • Six per cent of employers admit a youngster on work experienceor doing a summer job has had an accident in their workplace andone in three of those accidents was serious or requiredtreatment
  • One in seven employers says their company doesn’t havethe resources to ensure young people understand health and safetyissues at work
  • A fifth of employers thinks their young workers areover-confident and arrogant
  • Almost all employers (99 per cent) say that they have a moralresponsibility to ensure young people understand health and safetyissues at work.

Now Norwich Union has joined forces with leading accidentprevention charity, the Royal Society for the Prevention ofAccidents (RoSPA), to try to help reduce the number of work placeaccidents through further awareness and education.

Norwich Union and RoSPA have created an informative new website,, offering easily accessible advice on how toprotect young people from accidents.

The website highlights the responsibilities youngsters,employers and work experience organisers all have to ensure safetyin the workplace, and includes case studies and relevantinformation. Each section also has information including riskassessment forms and checklists that can be downloaded.

Teresa Budworth of Norwich Union said: "Many small businessemployers are not fulfilling their legal or moral responsibilitiesfor health and safety, putting young people’s lives at risk.This may be because they feel daunted by the mass of health andsafety law, or lack expertise or resources. The website aims tohelp such employers by setting out very clearly what they need todo."

"Youngsters have a right to feel safe, whatever job they aredoing, and we must all strive to ensure they are adequatelyprotected as they enter the world of work for the first time."

Roger Bibbings, Occupational Safety Adviser for RoSPA said:"Young people are often more at risk in the work place because of alack of experience and trained judgement.

This makes it even more vital that young workers are givenadditional support and guidance – not just to ensure thatthey are protected from immediate dangers but to help them developthe right safety values and attitudes that will help them stay safefor the rest of their working lives.

"The young workers website, in conjunction with the work beingdone by the TUC and the Health and Safety Executive, will enableemployers, teachers and parents to feel more confident about thesafety of our youngsters in the workplace - and in the long term,reduce the number of accidents."

David Morris, Head of Management, Small Firms and TrainingPolicy Branch, Health and Safety Executive said: "This website is avery helpful resource for young people starting their first job andfor the people that employ them."


Notes to Editors:

Health and Safety Executive Statistics 1998 - 1999. Prepared byGovernment Statistical Services.

Norwich Union commissioned Continental Research (May 2000) tointerview more than 300 owners, partners, directors and managingdirectors of small businesses with a turnover of between £50,000and £1m.

CGU and Norwich Union merged on 30 May 2000 to create CGNU plc -the world’s 6th largest insurer, the UK's largest insurancegroup and one of the top-five life insurers in Europe withsubstantial positions in other markets around the world.

CGNU's principal business activities are long-term savings,general insurance and asset management with worldwide premiumincome and retail investment sales of £26 billion and assets undermanagement of more than £200 billion.

From October, the combined life and pensions, general insuranceand retail fund businesses in the UK will operate under the NorwichUnion brand, while the institutional business will operate underthe Morley Fund Management brand.

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