Children in the workplace

With many parents working full time, it may become necessary at times to bring young people into places of work, and/or work alongside family at home. This can highlight a number of risks specific to the situation, and we have guidance on following some simple best practices for minimising these risks.

Safe Place at Work

Where there is no reasonable alternative other than bringing young persons into the workplace, employees and employers should adopt a sensible approach. High-risk or hazardous environments where a lack of experience and awareness of potential risks becomes critical are not suitable for children and should be avoided where possible. These environments may include areas containing machinery, transport yards or commercial kitchens. Identify if the workplace can provide a child friendly location, one away from moving equipment, processes, hot surfaces and significant noise and vibration.

Consider how the young person’s time can be organised in an age-appropriate way. Some children may require high levels of supervision and interaction, meaning including them within the main area of a workspace may not be suitable, and a separate space may need to be found.Where possible, prior to introducing children, manage the work environment to remove potential hazards and identify any resources needed. Considerations include:

  • There should be the facility to regularly check on children during the day (frequency dependent on age), a simple visual and/or quick one-to-one to confirm they are safe and comfortable.
  • Furniture availability and suitability (seating, power points for phones, laptops, access to play equipment etc).
  • Access to welfare facilities to potentially include changing facilities, toilets, drinking water supply and facilities to store and warm food.
  • The need to relocate, secure or protect any accessible biological and chemical agents, exposed hot pipework/services, work tools, vulnerable glazing, sharp edges or trip hazards.
  • Locking off any accessible-access equipment, ladders or work-from height equipment.
  • If workplace food provisions are used, ensure any allergy information is clearly communicated.
  • Suitable facilities for the storage of any medication and managing waste (secure fridge, sharps, and waste disposal).
  • Securing or restricting windows and doors to prevent access to hazard areas or falls from height.
  • Access to WIFI with any age-appropriate access controls.

Safe Person

In some situations, hazards cannot be removed from the workplace, and in these situations supervision levels should be increased to ensure such hazards are managed.

All children should be introduced to the site/location, and given clear instructions on safe and inaccessible locations. This introduction should include methods of raising concerns and suitable points of contact in the absence of a parent or carer.

Full instruction on fire evacuation procedures must be provided, which must include the need for prompt evacuation, a description of the alarm, the escape routes and the location of the evacuation points.

A daily check should be performed of all areas accessible to children, these checks should look for new hazards and changes to the layout. Where required, increase supervision levels, and if needs or behaviour change, the suitability of the workplace should then be reassessed.

We are here to help

If you are concerned about how this affects you and your business and would like support in assessing your needs, we are here to help. Please do get in touch for confidential advice and guidance.

This article was adapted from an article by Travelers which can be found here.