Workers under age 25 are twice as likely to end up in the emergency room as those 25 and older, according to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s new campaign aimed at protecting young workers. Every nine minutes a US teen worker gets hurt on the job, and 335 young workers were killed 2013.
Using the slogan, “Young Workers — You have rights!,” OSHA’s campaign features a website with resources for employers as well as young workers and parents and educators.
Many young workers are also temporary workers and host employers must treat temporary workers as they treat existing workers, especially including adequate training to young temporary workers, according to OSHA. Temporary staffing agencies and host employers share control over the employee, and are therefore jointly responsible for the temp employee’s safety and health.
OSHA outlined employer responsibilities for young workers:
- Understand and comply with the relevant federal and state child labor laws. For example, these laws prohibit youth from working certain hours and from performing dangerous/hazardous work.
- Ensure that young workers receive training to recognize hazards and are competent in safe work practices. Training should be in a language and vocabulary that workers can understand and should include prevention of fires, accidents and violent situations and what to do if injured.
- Implement a mentoring or buddy system for new young workers. Have an adult or experienced young worker answer questions and help the new young worker learn the ropes of a new job.
- Encourage young workers to ask questions about tasks or procedures that are unclear or not understood. Tell them whom to ask.
- Remember that young workers are not just “little adults.” Employers must be mindful of the unique aspects of communicating with young workers.
- Ensure that equipment operated by young workers is both legal and safe for them to use. Employers should label equipment that young workers are not allowed to operate.
- Tell young workers what to do if they are injured on the job.