Is Your Teen Safe at Work?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that about 100,000 teenage workers show up each year in emergency rooms across the country suffering from workplace injuries. More than 140,000 teens are hurt on the job annually; and some of those injuries are so serious that they are fatal. Make sure your teen understands his or her rights on the job. Download a copy of our free book How to Avoid Becoming a Workplace Injury Horror Story. Share it with your teen. Help them to understand that when something doesn’t feel right at work, they need to tell someone.
Getting that first paying job is a real rite of passage for American teenagers. Safety is too often a secondary thought for these kids just starting to gain work experience for the first time. In fact, as unbelievable as it may seem, work related injuries are the fourth leading cause of death for US youth between the ages of 10 and 19. Nearly three dozen teens will die this year from injuries sustained at work. Like any worker, your teen has a right to a safe working environment.
Part of the problem is lack of training. Since many teenagers take advantage of temporary and seasonal work, safety training and experience are too often lacking. As parents, making sure that a teenager is in a safe working environment is paramount to their safety.
Know the Law
Teaching teens to know and understand local, state, and federal safety laws. If you are unclear about them yourself, visit the OSHA website and learn all that you can. Too often teenage workers are asked- or required- to perform jobs that they are neither qualified for nor legal to do. For example, in a fast food setting certain pieces of equipment require a worker to be over the age of 18, yet many 16 and 17 year olds are asked to use the equipment.
Understand Safety Basics
Make sure that your teen understands basic safety protocol. In other words, educate your child on first aid. Ask questions of your teen. What are you supposed to do at work if you get hurt? How do you report it? Do you know where first aid supplies are? Is there an eye wash station? How have you been trained to handle fires or spills? Lead a discussion with those and similar questions. Talk to you teen about common workplace injuries and basic safety rules.
Communication is Key
Above all, keep the lines of communication open with your son or daughter. Watch for signs of workplace stress, which may be a key indicator that something is wrong at work. Your child should not feel intimidated out of reporting safety problems. Be sure that you know the chain of command. If a supervisor intimidates your child out of speaking up, encourage your teen to go higher and let someone know when things are not safe at work.