HC Deb 27 March 1991 vol 188 cc464-5W
Mr. Bowis

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish the report by the Robens Institute at Surrey university into accidents in the youth training scheme; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Jackson

I have placed a copy of the report in the Library of the House.

We have recently been given further attention to the needs of trainees in the new training environment created by the advent of training and enterprise councils, and other initiatives such as the introduction of employment training, youth training and training credits.

Our policy for the health and safety of trainees has been in place for a number of years, as the youth opportunities programme and youth training schemes followed by ET and YT, have evolved. The foundations of this policy are that the primary legal and moral responsibility for the health, safety and welfare of trainees rests with those who are providing the training, whether in a college or in the workplace. To this end we have provided in the Health and Safety (Training for Employment) Regulations 1990 for unemployed trainees in training with an employer to have the same legal protection under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act as they would if they were employees. The Government will use their best endeavours to ensure that those responsible for arranging and delivering training understand their obligations and are given appropriate help and support in carrying them out.

It is our aim to promote quality training programmes which enjoy the full confidence of the public. This includes firm policies for accident prevention and occupational health protection. As part of the training objective we aim to provide each trainee with health and safety skills and knowledge which they can carry forward into their working life.

Through their contracts with my Department TECs are contractually bound to have satisfactory systems to ensure their providers and their sub-contractors have adequate health and safety arrangements. My Department, through its regional offices, appraises TEC proposals in these respects and monitors performance when contracts are signed. To enhance the ability of the regional offices to perform this task their professional resources—regional safety advisers—are being strengthened overall.

We are also embarking on a range of other new measures. The existing publications and training materials provided by the Department are being reviewed, evaluated and then revised to provide relevant and up-to-date support and guidance to trainers and trainees alike. Gaps in existing provision will be identified and new products developed.

For TECs we will be examining a targeted approach to their health and safety activities. Our aim is to establish standards to which they can work and by which their performance can be measured.

With the Health and Safety Executive we will be looking at the consequences of coming European Community legislation for health and safety training and the health and safety content of national vocational qualifications.

Finally, taking into account the recommendations of the Robens Institute report a working group including representative of TECs is looking at the need of accident data collection in relation to employment training and youth training in the TEC era.

Altogether this represents a very considerable commitment of public resources to the health and safety of trainees.