More high school students than ever before have part-time jobs, but most get little guidance or training on the workplace hazards they might face. Sometimes, the boss provides a brief orientation and leaves it to the other young workers to “fill in” the new guy. Too often, there is no orientation at all, and young workers become victim to their own sense of invincibility.
If your son or daughter – or a teenager you know – is working, you might help prevent a tragedy by directing him or her – or, perhaps, a teacher or school guidance counselor – to NIOSH’s new website: Youth @ Work: Talking Safety. This site provides links to state-specific information and materials to help alert teenagers about on-the-job dangers.
Perhaps most impressive for young workers will be the online, downloadable, six-minute video of teens talking about injuries they sustained at work and what they’ve learned about their rights and how to protect themselves. Produced by the Massachusetts Department of Labor, the video is effective and motivational, in part, because all the interviewers and commentators are, themselves, teens. It is teens – sometimes somber, occasionally laughing – talking with their peers about the danger of work.
The problems of health and safety at work are mounting for teenagers as more of them work, not only in the summer, but throughout the school year. Last spring, OSHA established a special website that provides guidance to parents, educators and employers of younger workers as well as teens, themselves. It also publishes state-by-state employment regulations. The site stresses that parents should take an active role in their children’s decisions about work and should familiarize themselves with government regulations on child labor.