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European Agency for Safety and Health at Work

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Young people

Young People

Across Europe, 18 to 24-year-olds are at least 50% more likely to be hurt at work than older people. Young people are also more likely to suffer from an occupational illness.

Young people are especially vulnerable in the workplace.

Behind the statistics are individual stories. Young people having to live with the consequences of accidents and illness. Young people dying who had their whole lives ahead of them.

There are many reasons why young workers are at risk.  But they are all things that
we can do something about. Employers, educators, health and safety professionals, policy makers, and young workers themselves - we all have a responsibility to help keep young people safe and healthy.

See all the Agency publications on Young People

Why are young people vulnerable?

New to the job and new to the workplace, young people lack experience, and may not pay enough attention to the risks that they face: 

  • they may lack physical and psychological maturity
  • they may lack skills and training
  • they may be unaware of their employer's duties, and their own rights and responsibilities
  • they may lack confidence in speaking out if there's a problem.


For their part, employers may fail to take account of the vulnerability of young people, by providing them with the training, supervision and safeguards that they need, and giving them work that is appropriate for them.

 

The risks young people face

The exact risks that they face depend on the type of work that they are doing. Common risks include:

  • slips and trips
  • dangerous equipment
  • lifting loads
  • fast, repetitive work
  • work in awkward positions
  • noise and vibration
  • exposure to chemicals, radiation, extreme heat or cold
  • stress
  • violence from members of the public.