Teen Summer Job Safety
Each year thousands of teens enter the workforce. These teens are the workforce of America’s future. They can be an asset to your workplace, eager to learn, and very enthusiastic. However, they can also present some challenges when it comes to safety on the job. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), there were:
- 38 deaths of youth less than 18 years of age in 2007
- An estimated 52,600 emergency department treated injuries and illnesses in 2006 for workers aged 15-17 years old
- An estimated 6,290 injuries and illnesses requiring at least one day away from work in 2007 for young workers
The Department of Labor enforces two laws that protect the teen worker: the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). Additionally, each state has some child labor laws specific to that state that you will want to become familiar with. Both Kentucky and Indiana have child labor posters that should be posted if you employ minor aged workers.
The FLSA provides child labor provisions that deal with the age of the teen, how many hours they can work, how late they can work during the school year, and the types of jobs they can perform based on their age. There are several jobs that are prohibited for teens to perform, such as operating power-driven equipment, coal mining, and excavation operations. As the employer or the parent of a teen worker, you should become familiar with the FLSA. The Department of Labor has developed a booklet titled Youth Rules! This booklet will provide information on age requirements, hours, and prohibited jobs. Federal OSHA has also developed a teen worker webpage packed with resources and information.
To protect teen workers from occupational injury, you will need to spend time training them. Remember, they are inexperienced and may not feel comfortable asking questions. After all, they are teens and they think they already know everything! The time you spend with them will help set the stage for their future in the workforce.
When training a teen, show them how to do the job using clear instructions, ask them to repeat your instructions, and watch them perform the job. Correct any mistakes immediately and always leave the door open for additional questions. Check on the teen worker several times during the first few weeks to see if they are still doing the job correctly – don’t let them take shortcuts with safety. You, your supervisors, and other experienced workers need to set a good example for the teen worker by following all the appropriate rules as well.
Some jobs may require the teen to wear personal protective equipment (PPE). Make sure that the teen knows what jobs require the use of PPE and that they understand why they need to wear it for their job. The teen also needs to know how to obtain the PPE, how to wear it, and how to care for it. Subpart I – Personal Protective Equipment of the OSHA standard provides the requirement for all employees using PPE.
Dealing with emergency situations is also one of the areas that should be addressed in safety training. Depending on the workplace, the teen will need to know how to respond to a fire, severe weather, violent customers, and power outages. Train them on all the types of emergencies that may arise at your place of business.
If you have teen workers, an OSHA safety poster is available in both English and Spanish for you to display in your workplace. Further information is also available through NIOSH . Please protect your young workers this summer and at all times of the year.