Attention in recent months has been on how to pay for their training but a leading health and safety body has told employers that they must also focus on teaching apprentices about hazard, risk and control in the workplace.
In order to do so, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said, companies need to understand that many apprentices do not match the stereotype of being male, aged 24 or under, and working in a manual trade such as construction, engineering or manufacturing.
An investigation by the RoSPA into health and safety arrangements for apprentices has found a dearth of safety information for companies, due to a lack of data, coupled with misunderstandings of the “typical apprentice”.
More appropriate advice and information is therefore needed to help employers ensure the health and safety of their apprentices, RoSPA argues.
Too much safety advice still based on the stereotypical image of the young male apprentice while recent evidence shows that the typical apprentice is in fact more likely to be female, aged at least 25 and working in the service sector.
RoSPA is concerned that information, advice, and injury and ill-health statistics too often conflate apprentices and young workers.
It suggests that there is a need to compile injury and ill-health numbers and rates for apprentices, by age, across a range of industries, as opposed to statistics for young workers.
Guidance issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is limited and mainly covers young people and those on work experience, rather than apprentices specifically. This can be confusing, RoSPA suggests.
Launching the results of the investigation, Dr Karen McDonnell said that it is essential that employees at every stage of their working life are targeted with the right information at the right time.
The RoSPA “Inquiry into Apprentices” report is available at www.rospa.com.