Safety and health at work for young workers
Risk analysis and preventive measures
Employers must analyse the risks to which young people are exposed while at work, as part of the assessment of risks to their safety, physical and mental health and taking in account their development.
This risk analysis must take in account the fact that young people often pay too little attention to safety, lack experience and are sometimes not yet fully developed.
The risk analysis must be performed before they start work and must be renewed annually. It must also be renewed if they change work place.
Preventive measures are taken on the basis of the risk analysis to avoid risks and avoid and reduce injury.
Prohibition of dangerous work
One of the preventive measures is prohibiting young people from carrying out work regarded as dangerous.
This is work:
- that is objectively beyond their physical or psychological capacity;
- that involves harmful exposure to agents which are toxic, carcinogenic, cause heritable genetic damage, or harm to the unborn child or which in any other way chronically affect human health;
- that involves harmful exposure to ionising radiation;
- that involves the risk of accidents which it may be assumed cannot be recognised or avoided by young people owing to their insufficient attention to safety or lack of experience or training;
- that may expose young people to extreme cold or heat, noise or vibrations.
However, these prohibitive provisions are not absolute. The risk analysis must demonstrate that there is a genuine risk on the basis of the criteria specified in the code.
For some categories of young people, the prohibition can be waived in certain circumstances.
There are also special rules for the use of motorised equipment by student-workers.
Introduction and supervision
Another preventive measure is taking the necessary measures for introducing and supervising young people.
These measures must be carried out before they start working.The purpose of the measures is to help young people to adapt and integrate into the work environment and to ensure that they are able to do the work properly. A mentor can be appointed to supervise the young person in the workplace. The person appointed must also undergo thorough risk training. He or she must also know what types of work must be carried out under supervision. Employers must allocate enough time to allow mentors do this job properly and they must have the required authority. It is also important for mentors to encourage young people to participate, ask questions about risks at work and discuss and report any hazards they see.
Employers must ensure and finance suitable health surveillance for young employees.
Young people can be submitted to two types of examination.
- The standard health surveillance. This is for young people in a safety role or a role requiring increased vigilance, or performing an activity involving specific risk.
- The specific health surveillance, which consists of a preliminary and a regular health assessment for young people under the age of 21, who carry out night work (between 8.00 pm and 6.00 am) or work that is usually prohibited, as referred to in Annex X.3-1 of the code (but is permitted here because it is necessary for occupational training).
For more information about safety and health at work for young workers, please see our website in French and Dutch.
- Firstly, with the prevention advisor of the internal and/or external service for prevention and protection at work.
- Secondly, with the competent regional directorate for Supervision of Well-being at Work.
- Questions on the interpretation of the legislation: in writing to the Directorate-General for Humanisation of Labour.