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Call To Keep Young Workers Safe

Lawyer Speaks Out Over Risk To Young Workers


Employers are being told to provide a safe working environment for young people after a number of accidents involving teenage workers.

In one case highlighted by insurance company Aviva, a 17-year-old trainee plasterer - who had only been working for three days - suffered flesh burns from the caustic in wet plaster.

As well as suffering nerve damage, he ended up with reduced visibility after some of the plaster got in his eye.

Another worker, aged 18, had his fingers crushed while operating a mini-digger when he tried to lower the roll bar.

Phil Grace, liability risk manager at Aviva's UK Insurance business, said: "Both of these accidents could have been avoided with the right training for the employee and by having the right safety equipment. Good risk management will not only keep young people safe but help to protect all employees and the business itself."

The call comes after a builder was found guilty of manslaughter earlier this week following the death of 15-year-old Adam Gosling, who died in April after a wall collapsed on him causing fatal head injuries.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

David Urpeth from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: “I welcome the call for improving the health and safety of young workers.  It should be remembered that there are numerous reasons why young workers are at greater risk of such suffering injury or death following a work accident.  These include their lack of experience of the workplace, of the systems of work as well as their reluctance to complain if something does appear dangerous.

“I have helped numerous young people pursue their claim for compensation following a work accident including Wade Savage, A 16 year old from Sheffield who tragically lost three of his fingers whilst working for Holdsworth Packaging Ltd as a general handyman for his summer job.”

On the day of the accident a big order needed to be met and Wade was asked to help by using a machine to cut cardboard sheets to a specific size.

Wade said: “I had used the machine once before and was shown how to use it by my boss but that is all the training I had. On this occasion I was left to get on with it.

“I was told that every piece of cardboard wasted was money to the business so I was trying to cut the cardboard as small as possible.

“Suddenly my fingers were being pulled into the machine so I pulled them out as quickly as I could. I went into shock as an immense pain hit me and I realised that three of my fingers had been severed.”

After being rushed to hospital Wade underwent surgery but the retrieved fingers had been too badly damaged to reattach to the hand.