We want our young people to learn the value of hard work and smart money management early on. It’s the ambitious teenagers of today earning money after school, on weekends, and during summer vacations who will be running the workforce in a few short years. However, their lack of on-the-job experience makes them particularly vulnerable to workplace hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that in 2013, workers younger than age 25 were twice as likely to end up in the emergency room than those over age 25 and that 335 young workers were killed. OSHA estimates that every 9 minutes, a teenager gets hurt on the job. These types of incidents are preventable.
According to the federal government and those of each state, it is the responsibility of the employer to provide a safe workplace for everyone. Employers must strive to reduce or eliminate hazards, provide proper training, give instruction on what to do in case of injury, and provide any required personal protective equipment (PPE). Most types of PPE are also supposed to be paid for by the employer. OSHA safety and health standards were designed to prevent people of all ages from injury or illness on the job. Workers under 18 are subjected to a stricter set of safety guidelines, from the hours they’re allowed to work to the equipment they’re allowed to use.
The specific rules vary by age group. Generally, children of almost any age are allowed to work for the family business, as long as the business is not in mining, manufacturing, or one of the 17 hazardous occupations as defined by law. Children under the age of 14 whose parents do not own a business are limited to paper routes, babysitting, and a few other small jobs. Once a person gets to be 15, the possibilities broaden considerably to retail, food service, delivery, yard work, harvesting, and intellectual/creative work such as tutoring. At 16, a person has even more opportunities in front of him or her, though it’s still illegal to drive on the job, even with a license.
Each industry comes with its own kinds of hazards, including heavy lifting, dangerous machinery, moving equipment, slippery floors, falls, and exposure to chemicals. Many first-time employees choose manual labor jobs, but many also choose retail or food service. Injury or illness can occur for many reasons, such as inadequate safety training, inadequate supervision, unsafe equipment, dangerous work that is illegal or inappropriate for minors, stressful conditions, and the pressure to work faster.
Young people are not powerless. Here are some ways they can stay safe on the job:
- Ask for help if needed.
- Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask questions.
- Follow the safety rules.
- Report unsafe conditions to a supervisor.
- Wear the required safety gear.
If you have any questions about this topic, have been hurt on the job, or think your workers’ compensation benefits have been wrongly applied or denied, find out more by discussing it with one of the attorneys at The Mann Law Firm. We have over 50 years of experience helping people and we can help you. Based in Macon, we proudly serve communities throughout Georgia. Contact us by calling (478) 742-3381 or by filling out our online form.