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Compensation claim news
28/03/2007

MPs call for teen work accidents to be cut

An increasing number of MPs have shown concern for the amount of young people killed in accidents at work and are calling on the Government to open a Parliamentary debate on the issue.

The MPs are from a variety of political parties and are keen to see the high volume of UK work injuries and subsequent compensation claims drastically reduced.

It is estimated that over the last ten years, more than 14,000 teenagers received serious personal injuries whilst carrying out their work duties and 66 lost their lives. With teenagers making up such a small proportion of the entire workforce, it is these figures that the politicians feel need to be addressed.

The chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health, Michael Clapham MP, is one of those demanding change and he said, "The large number of deaths and injuries of teenagers in the workplace is an appalling tragedy, involving wasted young lives and misery.

"Young people at the beginning of their working lives, through lack of life experience and health and safety training, are particularly vulnerable to workplace hazards. Protecting the vulnerable is an essential mark of a civilised society."

The threat of being faced with potentially damaging and expensive personal injury compensation claims is something of an incentive for employers to ensure that their staff are treated properly whilst at work, but the group of safety conscious MPs believe the youngsters themselves should be the ones targeted.

They want Year 10 pupils (15-year-olds) to take part in a compulsory workplace hazard awareness course as part of their curriculum. Such a course has already been developed by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and ministers now want it to become mandatory in schools.

Lisa Fowlie, president of the IOSH, told the media, "This is an issue that deserves to be debated at the highest level. We will continue to press for action from government, educators and employers to ensure that the workers of tomorrow are able to lead a full, fit and happy life."

Despite all the calls for increased education and training, it is the employers who still have the ultimate responsibility to make sure that their workers are operating in a safe environment and that work accidents and possible compensation claims are avoided.

In some of the most dangerous occupations - fishing, forestry and scaffolding - this is especially important and it has to be said that work injury rates have dropped in the past decade due to the efforts of both employers and the safety authorities.

The latest ministerial efforts to increase awareness yet further can only help workplace accident rates among young people to drop even further.