Rules serve to protect children

THOUSANDS of schoolchildren take one or two weeks out of the classroom every year, to find out what working life is like.The tradition offers a glimpse of what the future could hold for them.

THOUSANDS of schoolchildren take one or two weeks out of the classroom every year, to find out what working life is like.

The tradition offers a glimpse of what the future could hold for them.

The youngsters – usually while they are studying for GCSEs - are asked to express preferences about the sort of career they might like to pursue.

Their school then arranges short stints with local employers.

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Pupils shadow staff as they go about a typical week's work, often spending a day in each department of a larger company.

Placements are usually followed up by the teacher-in-charge, to see how the pupil fared and what they learned.

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Companies are legally obliged to ensure the health and safety of young untrained people during their stay.

The Health & Safety (Training for Employment) Regulations 1990 apply the provisions of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 to people on "work experience."

The following 'Best practice' advice is based on the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999, EC Directive No.94/33/EC and Health & Safety (Training for Employment) Regulations 1990:


All students should be given an induction into the Department to tell them who is who, where the canteen is, where the toilets are etc.

Part of this initial induction must contain information on Health & Safety - specifically:

When the fire alarms are tested and for how long (the weekly test)

What to do if the fire alarm goes off when it is not a test

What to do in the event of an accident

Risk Assessments:

Risk assessments to identify and address any risks associated with the work to be undertaken by students is a legal requirement.

"Normal" risks are those associated with office activities – VDU working, use of office equipment etc.


Wherever possible students should not be required to operate machinery.

If they have to operate machinery they must be properly trained and supervised at all times by someone who knows the proper safe operating procedures of the machine in question.

The exception to this is the use of office machines such as computers, photocopiers, and printers.

Manual handling:

No students should be required to lift heavy objects.

Hazardous substances and other risks:

The law specifically requires that companies address the inexperience and immaturity of young persons, together with their lack of awareness of risks, and protect them from undertaking tasks involved with hazardous substances like lead, asbestos, toxic chemicals, fierce or poisonous animals, corrosive or explosive chemicals, and high voltage electricity.

Night Working, Rest Periods and Rest Breaks:

Young persons may not be assigned to work between 2200 hrs and 0600 hrs.

Young persons are entitled to a daily rest period of at least 12 consecutive hours in each 24-hour period and a period of at least 48 hours in each seven day period.

Duty to provide information:

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requires employers to provide parents or guardians with information on any risks to health and safety identified in the risk assessments and the necessary control measures to be put in place before the work placement takes place.


Employers must provide Employers' Liability Insurance for employees and ensure that this cover extends to students on work experience.

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