Insurance · 15 November 2016

Apprentices are at greatest risk from workplace injury

young worker
Apprentices are 73 per cent more likely to have an accident than older workers

Young apprentices are more likely to suffer a workplace injury at smaller firms than other employees, new research has revealed.

Analysis from Direct Line for Business has shown that young apprentices, aged between 16 and 18, are 73 per cent more likely to be involved in an accident at work than their older colleagues.

There are, on average, 13,000 non-fatal workplace injuries amongst 16 to 18 year-old apprentices every year in the UK, accounting for 3.6 per cent of all workers in the age bracket, the study found.

Although injuries to apprentices account for just one in every 50 accidents at work, they are more likely to be involved in an incident because of the limited number of apprentices in employment.

In total, the British workforce suffers 649,000 non-fatal injuries each year on average, affecting 2.1 per cent of all staff.

The head of Direct Line for Business, Nick Breton, said the research highlighted the need for small business owners to introduce greater health and safety measures.

“Apprentices are at greater risk of injury in the workplace, so it is therefore vital for employers to have the right safety and training procedures to help ensure younger employees are aware of any risks,” he added.

Although apprentices are more likely to get hurt in an accident, the research found they are far less likely to suffer illnesses at work and call in sick.

Young UK employees experience 6,000 incidents of workplace illness every year on average, affecting 1.6 per cent of all younger workers. This figure is far lower than the 3.9 per cent proportion of workers aged 19 or over affected by sickness, according to Direct Line for Business, suggesting that apprentices are far less likely to report an illness while on their placement.

Breton added: “The data suggests that apprentices are keen to make the most of their opportunity, with much lower sickness rates than their full-time counterparts.”

He went on to reveal that over the last three years in the UK, £815,590 had been issued in fines to businesses because of workplace injuries caused to apprentices, with the average fine standing at £26,000.

“It is vital for employers to have the right health and safety measures in place to reduce the number of people affected,” Breton concluded.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

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