Keep your Construction Industry Apprentices Safe at Work

Keep your Construction Industry Apprentices Safe at Work

22nd February 2017

With modern apprenticeships on the increase, the construction industry is one of the sectors that can benefit from the apprenticeship scheme as we strive to build the army of skilled workers the UK will need for the future.  With the skills shortage still being cited as one of the biggest threats to construction work here in Britain, construction companies are being encouraged to take on apprentices and give them a real taste of what it’s like to actually work within the sector.  However, any company or business owner taking on an apprentice has a responsibility to ensure that their apprentice is safe at work.

With the number of apprentices predicted to triple by 2020, keeping these people safe in the workplace is an essential issue.  We need to be providing age appropriate health and safety information with clearly written practical advice using plain English that is easy for anybody to understand.  We need to be giving advice to organisations on the types of checks they should be carrying out when placing an apprentice and we need to ensure that young workers have the necessary soft skills to help them engage with the topic of health and safety in the workplace.  Any employer taking on an apprentice will be required to:

·         Provide the apprentice with an induction into their role

·         Appoint a mentor for the apprentice

·         Provide the apprentice with a safe and healthy working environment

·         Permit the apprentice to take the necessary time off work to attend the requisite training

·         Allow the apprentice to take time out of work for study leave when necessary

·         Provide ongoing support throughout the apprentice’s training and employment

·         Provide the apprentice with all the usual benefits that other employees receive (e.g. holiday pay, maternity leave, company benefits).

·         Provide on the job training such as demonstrations on how to use work equipment correctly and safely.

As an employer, you must ensure that your company has health and safety guidelines in place and provide all members of staff with health and safety training, including apprentices.  An apprentice who is under the age of 18 is still classed as a minor which means that you, as an employer, must be aware of the Health and Safety regulations regarding minors.  This means that you need to ensure that the young people you employ are not exposed to risks as a result of:

·         Lack of maturity

·         Lack of experience

·         Being unaware of any existing or potential risks.

While we all benefit from knowing exactly where we stand and what our responsibilities are when it comes to health and safety in the workplace, we need to find ways to better engage apprentices.  An improvement in signposting to existing advice is necessary and we need to be using both technology and media to highlight the availability of this information in ways that young people are familiar with.  We need to ensure that our apprentices in the construction industry understand occupational health and safety related issues and where they can seek advice and assistance.