Article date: 7 June 2010
With thousands of students getting ready to embark on temporary jobs during their summer holidays, Aviva – as part of its Simply Safety campaign – is advising businesses on the importance of identifying and managing the additional risks associated with employing seasonal workers.
Phil Grace, liability risk manager, Aviva, said: “Businesses need to be aware of all the risks associated with hiring temporary workers in busier periods, typically the summer months, to prevent any nasty accidents.
“For example, farming and agriculture, the leisure sector, such as theme parks and petting farms, and manufacturing industries may all be busier during summer months and need more staff to cover the increased work-load or annual staff holidays.
“Summer jobs represent, for many young people, their induction into the UK workforce. However, because of the temporary nature of summer jobs, employers may be tempted to take shortcuts in basic health and safety training, leading to an increased risk and disproportionate number of work accidents."
Between 2001 and 2008, employees from ages 15 to 24 suffered 573 serious injuries. During this period, 27 young employees lost their lives, because of injuries in the workplace, devastating the lives of their colleagues, families and friends.1
European statistics suggest the incidence of non-fatal accidents at work is at least 50% higher among those aged 18-24 years than in any other age category.2
Phil continued: “Temporary workers will often not be at all familiar with their new working environment, and therefore not recognise the potential risks.
“Full training must be given to all temporary workers so that they can fully appreciate the hazards, especially on any mechanical equipment they will be required to use in their role.
“There is strong evidence that all people are at greater risk of accident and injury during the first few months of employment but the risk may be increased even more with young people who are new to the workplace. They may not have reached physical maturity or lack the confidence to ask questions or seek clarification about the tasks they are expected to undertake.”
Aviva also recommends that business owners and managers have a good system in place to help identify any problem areas and ensure that effective solutions are implemented.
Phil said: “A lack of experience may place young people at greater risk of injury. Young people may require extra supervision, more detailed instructions, special training or modifications to the task or activity, as they may have a reduced perception of danger – exposing them to greater risk. Such issues can be identified by carrying out a special risk assessment that addresses the issue of young workers. This will highlight the risks that they face and help frame suitable controls.
“Ensuring that those who create risks manage them responsibly and understand that failure to manage real risks responsibly is likely to lead to robust action. Sensible risk management is about ensuring workers and the public are properly protected, by balancing benefits and risks.”
For temporary workers whose job takes them outdoors, at theme parks and parks for example, managers should also encourage workers to cover up, especially in a lunch-hour when the sun is at its hottest.
There are unfortunately many examples of accidents in common seasonal working industries. A 16-year-old worker was killed when his ATV quad bike overturned. He had been feeding pheasants but lost control while braking on a steep farm track causing the vehicle to overturn. 3
A 17-year-old construction worker who had been employed for just one week was killed in 2003 when without proper training or any safety equipment he was asked to work on the roof and fell to his death through a skylight. 4
A theme park was fined £75,000 in 2006 for a "catalogue of failings"5 that led to a terrifying accident in which a 17-year-old worker driving an all-terrain vehicle pulling a trailer full of people went out of control on a steep decline and rolled into a river. Riggsed Ltd, which runs the Diggerland adventure park in County Durham, was also ordered to pay £19,000 costs after admitting two breaches of health and safety regulations. Durham Crown Court heard that the boy had only received brief training the day before the accident. There was no safety manual or a set of written instructions and the vehicle's exposed steel frame left passengers at risk of injury. Twelve of the 18 passengers were taken to hospital for treatment.
To download the Simply Safety factsheet visit: http://help.aviva.co.uk/risksolutions/safety-management/RM0001
For further information, please contact:
Heather Price Longden at Staniforth on 0161 919 8014/8010 or Sally Leeman at Aviva’s press office on 01603 684225/07789 270677
Notes to editors:
3 Examples taken from HSE 06 presentation on ‘How Lives are lost on British farms’.
5 http://archive.thisisthenortheast.co.uk/2006/11/21/232556.html (Link no longer active)
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