Every year various Schools and Departments give secondary school pupils the chance to gain valuable work experience by working at the University (usually for a week). This takes place as part of a work experience programme organised by a secondary school. The following frequently asked questions should help you better understand the simple steps to follow to ensure their health and safety.

What is the employee status of work experience pupils?

In terms of health and safety legislation only, the work experience pupil is regarded as an employee of the University for the duration of the placement. Therefore, they are entitled to the same health and safety facilities and protection as all other employees. In addition, the pupil is also covered by our employer’s liability insurance.

Who should I inform that I’m taking on a work experience pupil?

Arrangements are in place via Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils to aid the management of administrative and risk assessment requirements when accepting a work experience pupil. In cases where a work experience pupil will be hosted from another local authority or has an independently organised placement, the Occupational Health and Environmental Safety (OHES) Office (healthandsafety@rgu.ac.uk) must be informed a minimum of a week in advance to advise on risk assessment - providing the name of the pupil, which secondary school they are from and the dates and work environment of the placement as soon as these are confirmed.

What information do I have to give the pupil’s secondary school?

The secondary school will normally ask for two pieces of information in addition to contact details for the School or Department offering the placement:

The University’s insurance details 
These can be provided to you by the Finance Office.

A risk assessment 

No matter how dangerous or safe the pupil's tasks may seem a risk assessment will be required because of their potential vulnerability. The arrangements for conducting risk assessments ahead of work experience vary widely depending on the parent local authority. As described above, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Council have processes with which to jointly undertake risk assessments with the host. Other local authorities may request evidence of a risk assessment from the University and in these instances the Occupational Health and Environmental Safety office should be contacted as per above.

It is important to remember when conducting a risk assessment that work experience pupils will not be as mature or experienced as other staff and may not be competent at recognising hazards or danger. Therefore, they may require closer supervision than other staff, especially if using hazardous equipment.

What does the work experience pupil need to known on their first day?

When the pupil first arrives you should give them a brief induction before they commence work which must cover the following topics:

  • Emergency evacuation procedures (including the location of fire exits)
  • Accident procedures (including accident/incident reporting and first aid)
  • The location of welfare facilities (toilets, canteen, staff room) preferably by means of a short tour
  • A description of the tasks they will perform highlighting any risks to health and safety as noted on the risk assessment
  • Any other relevant information

Who is responsible for the health and safety of the work experience pupil?

As the pupil has the same legal status in terms of health and safety as any other employee so the normal hierarchy of responsibility and accountability within your School/Department applies. Ultimate responsibility for the safety of every employee, including work experience pupils lies with the Head of School/Department.

Is there anything work experience pupils shouldn’t do?

The purpose of the placement is for the pupil to learn by observation and practice. The risk assessment should identify the controls that need to be put in place before allowing a pupil to undertake activities.   

In some circumstances there may be specific regulations precluding the pupil from undertaking certain activities such as the use of power tools. However, a common sense approach to risk management should ensure that the pupil can make the most of the placement.

Specific guidance can be obtained from the OHES Office.

What happens if the work experience pupil has an accident?

The normal internal RGU accident/incident reporting procedure should be followed. The OHES office will forward a copy of the form to the pupil’s secondary school for their information.

If the pupil suffers a serious injury then, in addition to the above, the pupil’s secondary school should be notified immediately so that they can contact the pupil’s parent or guardian.

Further sources of information

Further information can be obtained from the OHES Office.