Young workers' occupational safety and health risks in the Nordic countries

image of Young workers' occupational safety and health risks in the Nordic countries

An attractive working environment that is inclusive and prevents work-related health problems is important to ensure that as many as possible can participate in the working life. During the Swedish presidency in the Nordic Council of Ministers 2013, the focus is on youth. This also includes the working conditions of young workers. This report has been prepared for a conference that is held in October 2013 by the Swedish Presidency of cooperation with the Swedish ILO Committee and The Nordic Institute for Advanced Training in Occupational Health (NIVA). The objective of the report is to provide important new insight into understanding and preventing young workers’ occupational safety and health (OSH) risks in the Nordic countries. The report provides a brief overview of the context of youth employment and its legal framework, the sectors young workers are employed in, the occupational safety and health hazards they are exposed to and the nature of their injuries and health outcomes.




Young workers (aged 15–24) are at a vulnerable and dynamic stage in their life, “being young,” yet in a transition phase from school to work, and “youth to adulthood,” bringing with it many challenges, and which intensifies their OSH risks compared to older workers. The introduction and mastery of work tasks and their accompanying risks are all part of a risk socialisation process. Combining non-permanent work with schooling and other education pursuits means that working conditions provide additional challenges in the formal and informal risk socialisation process – often with higher work pace and less qualified and effective supervision. In addition, young workers’ physical statures often have to adapt to working conditions designed for adults, such as working surface heights, the physical design of tools and equipment, and personal protective equipment. All of which may require the young worker to work in awkward and strenuous postures, and with ineffective or even hazardous equipment.


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