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More Safety Information needed for Apprentice Employers

August 16, 2016

A report carried out by RoSPA’s National Occupational Safety and Health Committee (NOSHC) shows that a better provision of advice and information is needed for employers taking on apprentices. Employers have a legal duty to protect apprentices in their service but without the correct guidance this can be difficult.

A full inquiry into the health and safety arrangements in place for apprentices was launched by NOSHC in December. It has found a shortage of safety information for companies taking on apprentices. The lack of information is due to not enough data and a misunderstanding of the people who become apprentices.

The information currently available to companies assumes that apprentices are usually under 24, male and work in a manual trade. However, a recent House of Commons paper has shown that the typical apprentice is 25 or over, female and works in the service sector. With this information it is clear the current information available for employers is inadequate.

With the government committed to tripling the number of apprentices in the UK by 2020 there is even more need for the correct advice. After their findings NOSHC will now work with a range of different companies in multidisciplinary partnerships to improve on the advice available.

Speaking on behalf of NOSHC, chairman Martin Isles commented: “The timing of the report is particularly pertinent as it coincides with employers urging the government in Westminster to delay and re-design the levy on apprenticeships which, from April 2017, is set to transfer the cost of apprenticeships from the state onto all employers with a payroll exceeding £3m.”

Health and Safety for Apprentices

Apprentices need to be treated the same as regular employees. This is laid out in UK health and safety law and has to be followed by all employers. However, employers also need to understand that apprentices may have different requirements to regular employees. Apprentices are new to the trade and often have a lot to learn. Employers need to be mindful of the additional requirements this may bring. Apprentices may need additional monitoring, supervision or health and safety training to work at the same level as regular employees.

Whilst the profile of an apprentice is not set in stone, the HSE also lay out guidelines for apprentices under 18, who should be treated the same as other young workers.

The latest evidence clearly shows employers want to provide a workplace for apprentices but need more support. This information is now being put together and ensure even more employers can hire apprentices to hit those government targets.