Every year hundreds of students leave our Comprehensive Schools and Academies and venture off into the world of work. Then we are told that 22 young people in the 16/17 year old age group will be killed and 170,000 more will receive serious injuries. Students go out into the workplace on Work Experience placements to get a grounding of what being at work is like. But are they safe?
The now defunct Learning and Skills Council produced the Safe Leaner Concept. A guide to how safety should be approached with regard to work experience placements. One of the matters addressed was that of training. They advised schools to give the students a half day of in classroom safety training before packing them off to work. I have asked so many schools how they dealt with the LSC’s recommendation. The replies I got were abhorrent!
Oh we show them a video, We give them a sheet of paper with some safety notes on, One of our teachers tells them to be careful or the best one – Oh we dont tell them anything we don’t have the time!!
So it seemed at the time I was doing the research that no-one really had an idea how to deliver this training. So four years ago I wrote a training course specially directed at secondary school students in Yrs 10 and 11. “The Safety Train Health and Safety Roadshow”. I offered this to secondary schools and for fours years the uptake on the Roadshow has just grown and grown.
Schools all over the country are clamouring to have our show delivered to their work experience students because it is learning with fun. Its more than the old man, ex safety officer, coming into the school and telling them tales of his experiences in the 1950′s so that they are all asleep by lunchtime. Its a show! we use props, jokes, colour, media and audience participation. The kids don’t get time to fall asleep, we are on the move all the time.
They are taught about hazards and risk, by means of a large brick game “Jenga”. It demonstrates the basis of risk assessments. Then we go on to explain numerous hazards in the workplace such as Slips, Trips and Falls using role play and comedy, electrical hazards and electric shock (some of the audience are shocked – literally – in this section/ safely of course) and then we teach them the correct way of dealing with electric shock. We spend some time on fire hazards, what to do in a fire situation, how fire extinguishers work etc. but this is all done with the final message of ”Get Out and Stay Out”
We go on with such things as machinery, manual handling, COSHH and PPE all subjects involving the kids in some way. Within the 2 hours it takes to present the show the Kids are focused on Safety and able to consider the dangers of going into the workplace for the first time.
The Government at the moment is making it difficult for schools to follow the work experience patterns of previous years and already some schools are thinking of discontinuing the work experience programme due to lack of funds. This must not happen. If it does the 22 that are killed when they start work will most certainly rise, as will the 170,000 seriously injured. We need to ensure that schools do impress the need for Safety in the workplace before sending young people into hazardous situations and the Government need to realise that Work experience is an essential to the older year groups at secondary level.
If you are associated with a school, if your child attends a secondary school or is about to undertake work experience then make your child’s school aware of the need for adequate safety training. Relay to them the statistics I have included here, Tell them what we at Safety Train do. Tell them of our website “http://safetytrain.org.uk” and tell them to contact us for more details. Kids lives are important and the workplace puts their lives at more risk than school.
Help us to get more young people trained to be safe at work SPREAD THE WORD!!!!