Health and safety at the workplace: why are youths at risk?
Job markets are hard for young people who are looking for work. Many feel the pressure to accept the first job they are offered, sometimes without considering whether the working conditions put their health and safety at risk.
This is a problem as young workers tend to fall sick or hurt themselves at work at a much higher rate than adult workers.
Globally, 374 million workers suffered non-fatal injuries at the workplace in 2014. According to the European Agency for Health and Safety at the Workplace, youths in Europe are 40% more susceptible to work-related injuries than older workers.
Health and safety at the workplace are a basic human right, but there is more to it than that.
The high rate of accidents among young workers is of particular concern because one accident can ruin a life, career opportunities, financial income and general welfare.
Poor health and safety practices cost almost four percent of the global Gross Domestic Product every year, almost three trillion euro. While these estimates are primarily based on the economic outgoings of businesses and government, when a young worker hurts themselves, years of productivity are lost as well as all the investment made in their education and training.
There are a number of factors that put young workers at risk. These include unstable jobs, educational level, lack of skills and training, personal physical development and the vulnerabilities of young workers.
How can we solve the problem? Youths could become more involved, the data could be made more useful, more emphasis could be put on legislation and regularisation, more importance be given to collective agreements and, above all, more awareness should be raised among young workers and employers and training could be increased.
Ensuring the safety of today’s generation of young workers is also an investment in the safety of future generations as well as a good investment for businesses and society in general.
Youths understand the reality of their lives at work more than anyone and their voices and their ideas should be central in efforts to guarantee their health and safety at the workplace.