2.8 million deaths
Every year internationally there are on average 2.8 million deaths for all ages because of accidents at work or from work-related diseases.
And every single day more than a million people have a serious accident or injury at work. Guy Ryder, director general of the ILO, says:
"152 million children, who should be in school, are working. And almost half of those children are engaged in hazardous work."
"For youth who are old enough to enter the labour force, the available data shows that they experience a 40% greater incidence of injury on the job than their older counterparts."
In the EU and UK the law provides protection for children and young workers in recognition that their lack of experience, reduced physical capacity and immaturity compared with adult workers may make them more vulnerable to injury. Where young people suffer personal injury at work the employer may have great difficulty trying to persuade a court that they (the employer) was not, at least to some extent at fault. Various rules protecting younger workers must be strictly adhered to.
Minimum Working Ages
The youngest age a child can work part-time is 13, except children involved in limited areas such as Television, theatre and modelling although they require a performance licence.
Children can only start full-time work once they’ve reached the minimum school leaving age of 16 - they can then work up to a maximum of 40 hours a week.
Restrictions on child employment
There are several restrictions on when and where children are allowed to work.
Children are not allowed to work:
• without an employment permit issued by the education department of the local council, if this is required by local bylaws
• in places like a factory or industrial site
• during school hours
• before 7am or after 7pm
• for more than one hour before school (unless local bylaws allow it)
• for more than 4 hours without taking a break of at least 1 hour
• in most jobs in pubs and betting shops
• in any work that may be harmful to their health, well-being or education
• without having a 2-week break from any work during the school holidays in each calendar year
During term time children can only work a maximum of 12 hours a week. This includes:
• a maximum of 2 hours on school days and Sundays
• a maximum of 5 hours on Saturdays for 13 to 14-year-olds, or 8 hours for 15 to 16-year-olds.
Longer hours can be worked during school holidays.
Failure to observe the provisions may result in prosecution. Where an accident at work happens to a young worker who should not be working during the period the employer is more likely to be found at fault in a personal injury action.
A central pillar of the employer's duty of care is the responsibility to carry out meaningful risk assessment of a task before it is carried out and then to take effective measures to control and remove the risk to allow the job to be safely carried out. Risk of accidents has been shown to be significantly greater for new starts, including young workers who join a firm.
Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, Reg 3 (3) and (4) an employer has a responsibility to ensure that young people employed by them are not exposed to a given risk due to lack of experience, being unaware of existing or potential risks and/or a lack of maturity. The practical effect of this is that a higher level of supervision is required for younger workers and apprentices and, in the event of an accident at work an employer is more likely to be found at fault at common law in a civil damages action for a failure to take reasonable care. The employer may also be criminally liable under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and its associated regulations, which impose a higher standard of care upon the employer than in a civil damages claim. In criminal prosecutions the duty upon the employer is often either to take such steps as are "reasonably practicable" (i.e. possible) to protect the worker or the duty imposes strict liability upon the employer to avoid the accident. Here the employer is liable merely upon proof that the accident happened in the circumstances.