Safeguarding your New Apprentice

making the working environment safe for young apprentices

When I was 14  I moved to a new district in Sheffield.   This area, whilst not far from my former home, had different preschools to mine.  Several School districts had all mixed in at Comprehensive School the year previously and so there where many new faces to meet and get to know.  Two such boys were in my daily registration form class and lived quite close to me,  they were called John and Troy.

These two lads were inseparable and it was obvious to me they had been friends for a very long time, probably ever since Nursery School.  John was the joker of the two, always doing pranks, telling stories and making Troy laugh.

When we all left School to start our new lives, I had opted to go to College to learn about the world of business and John and Troy had got apprenticeships,  both working in factories.   I would still see the lads occasionally on the morning Bus, always sat together, chatting, John making Troy laugh and generally enjoying each other’s company, just like they had always done.

One day I picked up the local news paper to read the tragic news that John had been killed in an accident at work.  He had fallen into a machine.

This was the first time in my life I had known someone who had died.  I reflected and recalled seeing John and his father sat joking with each other at a parents open evening years previously.  I  wondered how distraught his father must be at losing his son.

The next time I saw Troy on the bus, he was understandably devastated.  With a vacant look on his face, he was lost, empty and a shell of his former self. No longer did he have his best mate by his side.

A young person fresh into the world of work can often display naivety towards the dangers and hazards that may be inherent to a work process.  This behaviour, while common, can often be overlooked by an employer and be the source of potential serious accidents. The reality is, young people are owed the same duty of care as other employees and therefore employers have the same responsibilities for health, safety and welfare.

For apprentices who are under 18, the employer has the same responsibilities as for other young workers.  The responsibilities of a training provider, unless it is an Apprenticeship Training Agency (see below), should be considered to be the same as those of a work placement organiser – see ‘Training providers’ below.

How can you improve the situation **Apprenticeships Training Agencies (ATA). These organisations will source, arrange and find a host for an apprenticeship, the Agency is the apprentice’s employer. The ATA and the host organisation should work together to ensure risks are effectively controlled. 

Below are key areas on how organisations should cooperate to ensure the same level of health and safety protection is provided in the workplace for apprentices hosted via this arrangement as for host organisation’s employees.

The host company and ATA need to agree who does what with regard to the apprentice. It should never be assumed that the ‘other side’ will take responsibility:

Key areas to follow:

  • make sure, before apprentices start, that they are covered by risk assessments, and they know what measures have been taken to protect them
  • make sure apprentices understand the information and instructions they need to work safely, and have had any necessary training
  • agree on arrangements for providing/maintaining any personal protective equipment, display screen equipment eyesight tests, and any necessary health surveillance
  • agree on arrangements for reporting relevant accidents to the enforcing authority (usually HSE or the local authority)

Under the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003, agencies and businesses that use workers supplied by them must exchange the information they both need to ensure the safety of workers.

Training providers include all those who arrange or fill apprentice vacancies.   This includes third party sub-contractors and also includes those who are only involved in organising the off the job training element of the apprenticeship.

The employer has the primary responsibility for the health and safety of the apprentice and should be managing any significant risks.  As the training provider, you should take reasonable steps to satisfy yourself that the employer is doing this

This does not mean trying to second guess an employer’s risk assessment or risk control measures, and you are not required to carry out your own workplace assessment

You can rely on past experience, for example, if the employer is familiar to you and they have a good track record on health and safety.  You should keep checks in proportion to the environment:

  • For low risk environments, such as an office or shop, with everyday risks that will mostly be familiar to the apprentice, simply speaking with the employer to confirm this should be enough.  This can be part of any wider conversation on placement arrangements that may take place.
  • For environments with less familiar risks, like light assembly or packing facilities, talk to the employer to find out what the apprentice will be doing and confirm the employer has arrangements for managing risks, including induction, training, supervision, site familiarisation, and any protective equipment that might be needed.
  • For higher risk environments such as construction, agriculture or manufacturing, discuss with the employer what the apprentice will be doing, the risks involved and how these are managed, satisfying yourself that the instruction, training and supervisory arrangements have been properly thought through.

Check the apprentice knows how to raise any health and safety concerns.

At KIS Safety we realise that this can be a minefield for all parties concerned in organising apprenticeships for young people.  With a wealth of experience across a range of industries, KIS Safety can help you apply the principals as detailed above to ensure the Young Apprentice will be working in a safe and healthy environment.

For more information call us direct on 07480 645657 or send an email to

*A true account with names of individuals changed

**Source: HSE website

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