Do young workers have special protection?

Yes. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 give special protection to young workers aged 16 to 18, because their lack of experience or maturity can place them at greater risk (Regulation 19).

This prevents employers taking on young people for work that:

  • is beyond their 'physical or psychological capacity';
  • involves harmful exposure to toxins; or
  • involves risks or exposure to accidents that young people may not appreciate, "owing to their insufficient attention to safety, or lack of experience or training."

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published guidance about the need to take extra care over the health and safety of young people on their website. The TUC has produced a guide for safety reps (PDF, 970KB) about the health and safety of young workers.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.