Health, Safety & Environment Consultants

The Importance of Managing Vulnerable Workers


Many businesses have conducted their risk assessments and spent time thinking about how to mitigate the risks of hazardous activities within their workforce. However, vulnerable workers are often overlooked.

The HSE defines vulnerable workers as those who are at risk of having their workplace entitlements denied, or who lack the capacity or means to secure them. This includes migrant workers, new and expectant mothers, those with disabilities, older works, younger workers and those new to the job. If we fail to meet the demands of these workers we run the risk of them not being able to conduct business safely.

So, what are some of the issues we need to address to keep our vulnerable workers safe? We need to ensure vulnerable workers are represented in every aspect of the risk assessment process. This should happen automatically if we are consulting with the workforce. However, if vulnerable workers are not consulted, there can be huge gaps in the risk assessment process which could lead to an incident occurring.

Some issues to consider include:

  • Can all workers hear warning devices? If not visual warning or vibrating signals should be employed.
  • Is there adequate supervision for inexperienced or young workers?
  • Changing an individual’s role to accommodate a permanent or temporary condition which may prevent them from performing their usual role. For example, taking into account sitting, standing or lifting.
  • Emergency procedures and how to evacuate vulnerable workers.
  • Can workers read, write and speak English? If not methods of communicating safety need to be considered.
  • Exposure to chemical agents which could be harmful to expectant mothers and young workers.
  • Moving older workers who may be physically incapable of doing their jobs into training roles so that their knowledge and vast experience can be used to train the workforce.

Ensuring your risk assessments include vulnerable workers ensures the safety of all. Making adjustments for vulnerable workers need not be expensive or prohibitive. Keeping vulnerable workers safe in the workforce can strengthen your business and ensure that you keep that valuable knowledge of your business.

If you need help managing vulnerable workers in the workplace, or with any part of your health and safety management system, contact us to find out how we can help you: or 01843 6399711.

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