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Nick Avgerinos
Nick Avgerinos
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Teen Workers: How to Stay Safe this Summer!

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Remember what it was like to be a teenager? A false sense of invincibility, a dread of asking questions that might make you look dumb, and an eagerness to prove yourself on a first job? For many teens that are using their summer vacations for their first jobs, these traits combined with inexperience and improper safety provisions can be dangerous in the work place.

Every year , approximately 200,000 teenagers in the United States are injured on the job, and about 70 are killed. Which makes teens two times more likely to be injured on the job than adults. This higher risk of injury has inspired New York to make June “ Teen Worker Safety Month .” This month, state agencies will take steps to inform employers of laws and regulations for young workers, provide information to teen workers about their rights, how to work safely, and how best to communicate with their employers to ensure that their right are not violated. Furthermore, the New York Workers Compensation Board said Tuesday that it will expand a program to promote safety for teenage workers.

A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics in March of 2007 reports that many employers break laws by allowing teenagers under 16 to work past 7 PM on a school night, that teenagers perform multiple tasks on the job, lift heavy objects, or use certain types of dangerous equipment, or illegally serving alcohol, all of which may contribute to workplace injuries.

What may be obvious to an adult may not be obvious to a teenager, which is why employers should take caution in hiring teen workers. Adequate training aimed at a teenage audience is crucial. Employers should match teenage workers with a more experienced “buddy” or mentor to help them learn the safety intricacies of the job, and encourage teens to ask questions. Teenagers should not be operating heavy equipment, and employers should avoid tasks that require driving, as many teenagers have underdeveloped driving habits.

In Illinois , as in other state, Seasonal and teenage employees are entitled to the same workers’ compensation rights as full time employees, so employers should be sure to protect themselves with adequate precautions, and teen workers should know their rights. Stressing safety to teens is not only the law, is it is a moral obligation for those entrusted with their care.

Employers can find many resources on the internet that provide further safety tips if they follow these links from credible blogs , the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor, and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health