Workplace injuries more prevalent among young apprentices

Trainees are less likely to take sick leave than full-time employees but 73% are more likely to be involved in an accident, finds Direct Line for Business as more than £800k is issued in fines over workplace accidents involving apprentices in the last three years 

New analysis from small business insurer Direct Line for Business has revealed that apprentices are at greater risk of work-based injury than the average worker.
It found an average of 13,000 cases of non-fatal injuries among employees aged 16-18 every year, accounting for 3.6% of all workers in this age group. Across the entire workforce there are some 649,000 non-fatal injuries each year, affecting 2.1% of all employees. This means that, while apprentices only account for one in 50 accidents, they are 73% more likely to be involved in an incident due to the smaller number of apprentices in employment.workplace-injury
However, the average of 6,000 incidences of work-related illness every year among young employees, affecting 1.6% of all young workers, is much lower than the 3.9% recorded amongst workers aged 19 or over. This analysis suggests apprentices are much less likely to report illness to their employer whilst on placement.
Table One: Prevalence of self-reported injury and illness in apprentices compared to the overall workforce
Age group
Non-fatal injuries
Incidents of work-related illness
Total workforce
% of workforce affected by injury
% of workforce affected by illness
16-18 year olds
19+ year olds
All employees
The data also estimates that some 75,000 working days are lost every year by apprentices, averaging out to around one day lost for every five apprentices. Across the entire workforce an estimated 28.3 million working days are lost every year, averaging out at just under a day for every worker.
Nick Breton, head of Direct Line for Business, said: “The data suggests that apprentices are keen to make the most of their opportunity, with much lower sickness rates than their full-time counterparts. However, the research indicates that apprentices are at greater risk of injury in the workplace so it is therefore vital for employers to have the right safety and training procedures in place to help ensure younger employees are aware of any risks.
“Work related illnesses such as respiratory disease, stress and pain in the body’s joints can also be avoided so it is vital for employers to have the right health and safety measures in place to reduce the number of people affected.”
Over the past three years a total of £815,960 has been issued in fines to businesses as a result of workplace injuries affecting apprentices or young employees, with the average fine standing at more than £26,000.


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