British Safety Council campaign for young workers

International evidence suggests that young people have a higher than average risk of being killed or injured in the workplace.

The European Agency for Occupational Safety and Health estimate that 16-24 year olds are at least 50% more likely to be injured at work than older people. In the developing world, which accounts for 85% of all 16-24 year olds, the situation is far worse with the risks more pronounced and widespread underreporting of accidents and ill health.

Between 2005 and 2010 there were 88 young people between the ages of 16-24 killed at work in the UK. 84 of these were young males. Young male workers in construction and agriculture are at the highest risk. These two sectors account for almost 50% of fatalities in the UK within this age range. The majority of these incidents occur within small to medium sized businesses (SMEs).

The British Safety Council, a global health, safety and environmental charity, is providing free health and safety qualifications for young people, and campaigns for safer working conditions.

Free qualifications
The British Safety Council is paying for all 14-19 year olds in full time education to receive an accredited qualification in health and safety. The aim is to raise young people’s awareness of health and safety hazards before they enter the workplace. Since 2007 more than 100,000 young people have benefitted from of these qualifications. 

The British Safety Council’s Speak Up, Stay Safe campaign aims to raise young peoples' awareness of workplace safety and encourages young workers to speak up if they feel unsafe in the workplace.

Young workers may be reluctant to speak up about a workplace hazard due to a lack of confidence, a lack of faith in their own ability, a fear of challenging older more experienced workers, a fear fo being wrong or a fear of being blamed.

The British Safety Council believes that it is vitally important to communicate with today's young workers in the right way. This means communicating with young people on their own terms, in their own language, using their own platforms, and utilising new technologies including social networking sites.

The campaign is available on Twitter!/britsafe and You Tube and features a number of video resources, educational tools, and discussions with young people. It has been supplemented by a series of live events.

The campaign has received national recognition and media coverage in the UK and was nominated for the national Children and Young People Now Award in 2010. In April 2011 we sponsored a group of students to produce a short drama film on health and safety which went on to win an award at the Clapperboard Youth Awards 2011. 

The British Safety Council also undertakes research into young worker safety to strengthen the evidence base for our campaigns and provision of qualifications and to better understand the underlying themes. Recent research has included;

  • An investigation into the impact of the British Safety Council’s Entry Level qualification in which 1000 school pupils were surveyed.
  • Observations of young peoples’ knowledge and attitudes towards health and safety in which young workers across a range of industries were interviewed.

The British Safety Council is now developing guidance aimed at employers on how to offer the best protection to young workers. This will include guidance on communicating, consulting and understanding young workers. It will also review the evidence as to why young workers are more vulnerable, provide advice on identifying hazards, advice on inductions, training and supervision, sector specific advice, employers' legal responsibilities, self assessment exercises and case studies.

The guidance will be launched during the first half of 2012. 







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Ensuring the safety and health of young workers


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Target group:

Qualifications are available to 14-19 year olds (either in full time education; or those not in education, employment or training). They aim to provide a broad understanding of risk and hazards in the workplace.

Qualifications methodology:

The qualifications (Entry level or Level 1) can be incorporated into existing programmes of study in schools. They are supported by free student and teacher resources. They can be delivered in 6-8 hours of teaching and assessment. Schools are encouraged to deliver them during the build up to work experience; when most students will enter the workplace for the first time.  

The subject matter is not industry specific but aims to provide a basic but broad understanding of workplace health and safety. Topics include: basic hazard awareness, the responsibilities of employers and employees, safety signs, personal protective equipment, and fire safety.

The entry level qualification is assessed by a simple portfolio of evidence; students can provide written answers, but other approaches such as photographs, posters and videos are encouraged. The level 1 qualification is assessed by a 40 question multiple choice examination. All marking is conducted by the British Safety Council.


More than 100,000 students in full time education, and more than 30,000 young people who are not in employment, education or training, have received an Entry Level or Level 1 qualification.

Used Media:

The British Safety Council provides free teacher and student resources for its qualifications. Research reports are available upon request.
The Speak Up, Stay Safe campaign can be accessed via Twitter and You Tube.


Qualification materials are available in English, Welsh and Polish.
Campaign materials and research reports are only available in English.

Lessons Learned

In 2010 the British Safety Council conducted an evaluation of the impact of its Entry Level qualification. 1,000 students were surveyed before and after taking the qualification. The study indicated shifts in certain likely behaviours having completed the qualification (for example a significant number said that they would be more likely to raise health and safety concerns with a supervisor). 88% felt that the qualification would help to keep them safe on work experience.


Free qualifications:

Speak Up, Stay Safe campaign:
Further information can be requested from: Matthew Holder, British Safety Council,

70 Chancellors Road, London W6 9RS. T: +44 (0)20 8600 5548 E: