According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the youth labor force grows sharply each year between April and July. While a summer job can provide invaluable experience and open the door to employment upon graduating from high school or college, it can also be risky. Teens are in danger of being hurt or even killed when they work during the summer, especially if they do not receive the proper training.
With the holiday season, younger members of our family are enjoying time away from school and many of them are picking up seasonal positions at some of our local businesses to earn some extra money. During this time, it’s important to remind these young workers that they have rights on the job and their employer has the responsibility to provide a safe workplace. It’s also important to make sure that they follow the limits and regulations regarding what these workers can do on the job.
Before your teen heads out for holiday work, make sure you discuss their rights to help them to ensure safe seasonal employment.
Our Boston workers’ compensation lawyers understand that not only must employers provide a safe workplace and comply with OSHA standards to prevent injuries and illnesses, but they’re also required to train new workers on job hazards and safe work practices in a language they understand. Employers must also pay for most types of required safety gear. Although employment of teens provides many benefits, the potential for serious injury and death must not be ignored or denied. Teenage workers are killed or seriously injured at work each year. Employers, teens and parents must increase their awareness of the laws governing child labor and take a proactive approach to ensure all teens are afforded the right to work safely, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Young Workers site.
The workplace can be dangerous for people of all ages, but young people face special risks on the job. In addition to lacking the experience to avoid some dangerous situations, young workers may also be more likely to take jobs in the restaurant industry or in a field where physical work and manual labor are required. Our Boston work injury lawyers know that these jobs bring with them some serious potential dangers, including the risk of being burned.
The Province recently reported on one young man who was badly hurt when he was working at a restaurant job at just 19 years of age. He is now an advocate and spokesperson who is speaking out to other young workers about steps they can take to protect themselves on the job.
According to Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, officials have recently teamed up with the Youth Violence Prevention Funder Learning Collaborative, as well as the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, to discuss the benefits of summer jobs for our younger workers. This is the final release on the Mayor’s Summer Jobs Program.
The City of Boston reports that this is the 21st year of the program and this year has brought more than 10,000 teens into the local workforce. This program has been used as a national model to help to inspire struggling cities to find summer jobs for their teens.
Our Boston workers’ compensation lawyers understand that there has been stacks of evidence that proves that summertime work positions for teens creates an improvement in their behavior — particularly pertaining to violence and the exposure to it. The most survey was conducted among students who used the Mayor’s program for summertime jobs and students who didn’t. On the more than 20 negative behaviors that were assessed, those who worked within the program through the summer received net improvements in nearly 15 significant areas. Those who weren’t involved in the program only saw improvements in one area.
Previous studies conclude that summertime employment also creates positive results in getting better grades, learning new skills on the job, resilience, confidence boosting and other important factors that are key in a teens life and their transition to a safe and successful adulthood.
Urban teenagers who participate in the Summer Jobs Initiative are able to create positive work habits that last a lifetime. They are often motivated to pursue their education with newfound career goals, which, in many cases, lead to a permanent position with the same company or field of work.
If you’re a teen, don’t forget to apply with the Hopeline to become eligible for these positions.
Remember, there are many jobs that are looking for these young workers. According to Forbes, some of the most common and popular summer jobs for teens include golf caddy, retail sales, food service, internships, life guard, nanny, housekeeping, landscaping and even tutoring.
But all job positions come with risks for an accident. According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, a surprising number of teen injuries occurred in the workplace. In response, the MDPH Occupational Health Surveillance Program (OHSP) conducted a more thorough analysis of these data and found that close to 15 percent of the injuries (with known location of injury) among 14- to 17-year-olds occurred at work.
From 2003 to 2011, there were close to 350 workers under the age of 18 who died while on the job in the United States. Thousands more teen workers were involved in workplace accidents that resulted in serious and severe injuries.
Summer vacation is a time when many teens join the workforce, earning spending money or extra cash to help their families out with bills. For the past few summers, teens looking for jobs have had it rough due to high unemployment rates in most parts of the country. This year, however, a nationwide survey reveals that teens are optimistic about their ability to find summer employment.
If more teens do find work this summer, it means that there will be more young people in the workplace who are potentially at risk of getting hurt. While a teen job can be a great learning experience and a resume booster, teens in workplaces who have minimal experience are at risk of injury. Our Boston work injury attorneys urge parents to ensure that employers are doing everything to keep kids safe and to remind employers that hiring teen workers carries risks that need to be managed.
Teens are Optimistic About Summer Employment
Fox 6 Now has recently reported that the majority of teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18 years of age intend to get jobs this summer. This statistic comes from a the nationwide Junior Achievement USA’s 2013 Teens and Summer Jobs Survey. According to the survey:
-63 percent of teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18 intend to get a job this summer.
-92 percent of teens who are planning to look for employment are either very or somewhat confident that they will find seasonal work.
-38 percent of teens who were surveyed indicated that they had held down a summer job in the past.
-47 percent of surveyed teens indicated that they planned to use their parents’ connections to find employment.
-33 percent of responding teenagers said that they would be using online job postings to secure a job.
-32 percent said that they planned to get their job by looking in store windows to see if they had hiring signs.
-72 percent of surveyed teens indicated that they anticipate earning between $7.25 (minimum wage) and $10 per hour although the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that 21 percent of employed teens earned minimum wage or less in 2012.
These statistics reveal some important facts. First and foremost, if most teens that anticipate finding jobs actually do enter the workforce, there will be a lot of young workers this summer. Many of these young workers have never had jobs and do not have the knowledge or experience that can help them stay safe in the workplace.
This means that employers need to go the extra mile to ensure that kids are safe when they are working. Further, since many kids intend to find jobs through their parent’s connections, parents need to ensure that they are recommending safe worksites for kids and that their children go to work for employers who place a premium on workplace safety and avoiding work injuries.
Recently, our Boston work injury attorneys took a look at OSHA’s explanation of dangers for young workers in the restaurant injury. Our previous article focused on the dangers that youth workers face when serving to customers and when doing clean up. However, there are also other risks that can cause injury to the many young employees who turn to the food service industry for their employment.
Today, we are taking a look at some of the other hazards that exist including the dangers that drive-thru workers face as well as the dangers to the young people who prepare and cook food.
Drive-Thru Dangers for Young Workers
Drive-thus are very common in the fast food industry and allow young workers to interact directly with customers. Some of the risks that these young workers face when manning the drive-thru include:
- Noise: Excessive noise can cause permanent hearing loss. To minimize the risk, it is important for employees to have a headset that fits properly and that has an appropriate volume level.
- Sprains and strains: Reaching, leaning and lifting can all strain the body and those doing drive-thru work routinely have to do the same repetitive motions over and over. To minimize the risk to workers at drive-thrus, workers should avoid reaching too far when serving food and avoid twisting when they are lifting. Employers must design the drive-thru window to minimize strain and should routinely rotate workers through drive-thru service to give the body a break.
- Workplace violence: Workers interact directly with customers who may want to do them harm or rob the restaurant. The danger can be minimized by using drop boxes to deliver food late at night. Employers should also follow child labor laws, including those prohibiting workers under 16 from working after 7 P.M. during the school year or after 9 P.M. during summer months.
- Standing for long periods of times: The back and legs can be strained and damaged due to standing for long periods of time at a drive-thru window. Wearing comfortable shoes can help and employers should provide a stool, foot rest bars and/or anti-fatigue mats.
- Exposure to car exhaust: Workers at drive thrus routinely inhale car exhaust which contains carbon monoxide and other chemicals. The drive-thru window should be kept closed as much as possible and employers need to make sure that adequate ventilation and a reverse-flow fan system minimize exposure to pollutants.
While drive-thrus are dangerous, cooking and preparing food also present risks to young workers. The risks include:
- Fire hazards
- Heat hazards
- Electrical hazards
- Machine guarding dangers
- Knives and cuts
- Dangerous kitchen equipment
In order to protect young workers from cooking dangers, employers must provide proper training and supervision. They must ensure that child labor laws are followed, including those prohibiting workers under 18 from operating, adjusting or cleaning power-driven equipment including bakery mixers and meat slicers. These and other OSHA guidelines on restaurant work and child labor can help to ensure that these risks do not lead to a workplace injury for younger restaurant workers.
For many young workers, work in food service is the best available job. There is almost always demand for food service workers, either in fast food environments, casual or formal restaurants and these types of environments are often more receptive to hiring people who are younger and who have limited job training and experience. Younger workers can also do well in the restaurant industry if they are able to find a position where tips are paid.
Unfortunately, while the restaurant industry provides jobs for many youth, the industry also presents some significant risks to these young workers. Our Boston work injury attorneys will be taking a look at some of these top risks in a two part series on young restaurant workers.
The Top Risks to Young Workers
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified some of the top dangers that young workers face when performing various essential tasks involved in restaurant worker. OSHA tackled serving; cleaning up; drive-thru work; food prep; cooking and delivery as well as other dangers involved in food service.
For workers who are serving food, for example, the biggest dangers include:
- Sprains: Sprains can occur due to balancing too many plates or glasses; balancing heavy trays; lifting heavy containers of dirty dishes; reaching across to serve or clear tables; and moving tables or chairs to provide customer seating. They can be avoided by using proper posture when serving; limiting the items carried; moving glasses and plates towards you rather than reaching; and keeping your elbows close to the body when carrying
- Slips, trips and falls: Slip and falls can occur due to slippery floors; busy and congested areas; uneven floor surfaces; blind corners and stairs; and single entry doors to the kitchen. They can be avoided by wiping spills and ice from the floor immediately and wearing non-slip shoes.
- Burn injuries and scalding injuries: Burns can occur when operating machines that prepare hot drinks or when serving or preparing hot drinks or foods. Servers should be properly trained and should use caution when dealing with hot items to avoid burns.
- Workplace violence: Workplace violence commonly occurs when restaurants are robbed, especially as thieves often know that cash registers contain lots of cash. The risks of workplace violence can be avoided by keeping the cash register locked and in site of other customers; by avoiding counting cash in public; and by properly training employees on how to deal with robbery.
- Cuts from knives and sharp objects: To avoid cuts, workers should not use glasses to scoop ice; should pay careful attention when using knives and should be trained in their safe use; and should avoid picking up broken glass with their hands.
Workers who are cleaning up face many of the same dangers that workers who are serving do, including strains; slips and falls; burns and cuts. However, they also face other risks including potential exposure to electrical hazards and hazardous chemicals. Proper training, proper equipment maintenance and safe workplace practices can minimize the risk to those young workers who are on the cleaning crew.
Keeping Young Workers Safe
These are just a few of the major hazards that affect young workers in restaurant environments. Our Boston injury attorneys will also be addressing other risks to young workers in Part II of our series on restaurant dangers.
As of last count, there were close to 20 million workers throughout the country who were under the age of 25. This young group makes up close to 20 percent of the workforce.
According to Challenge.gov, close to 400 workers between the ages of 13 and 24 died from work-related injuries in 2009. In addition, there were close to a million injuries that required medical attention. As a matter of fact, the rate of E.R. treated work injuries is double for employees who are under the age of 25 in comparison to those who are older.
Our Boston workers’ compensation lawyers understand that it’s critical for these young workers to be aware of the dangers that are present on some of their work sites. They also need to know what they can do and what employers should be doing to ensure safety. And that’s where the Challenge comes in.
What you are asked to do is use public government information to create a way to educate young workers. Submissions should demonstrate the importance of knowing about workplace hazards and safety measures. You can get into personal protection equipment and engineering controls to help to protect workers.
Your material should also help these young workers to understand the rights that they have in the workplace. They should also be able to learn about the responsibilities of their employer.
Participants are allowed to use any content they wish and can create the application however they wish, but it has to be age appropriate. It also has to be interactive and must be able to be shared.
In addition, submissions are required to:
-be simple to use.
-attract users of all skill levels and of all ages.
-target our youngest groups of workers.
Submissions can be on social media platforms, on smartphones and can even be used through internet browsers.
There will be four grand prize winners that will be able to get their hands on part of $30,000.
Want to Enter?
-Create an account with Challenge.gov and submit your entry. It can be submitted with a link to a video of the working tool.
-Once submitted, changes to your program or application cannot be made.
You can start voting on your favorite tool on Challenge.gov.
According to Massachusetts’ Health Department’s “Teens at Work” project, there were close to 20 teens who were killed at work from 2004 top 2008. During this time, there were another 5,000 teens injured at work. About 30 percent of these injuries happened in the retail industry. Another 30 percent happened in restaurant, hotel or other food-service jobs. Many could have been prevented if these young workers were more aware of their rights and responsibilities on the job. Talk with your young worker today about their safety on the job. It’s a job that could save their life.
Slowly but surely, companies across the country are grasping the dangers of cell phone use behind the wheel. With each passing day, more and more companies are taking the proper safety precautions to help stop this dangerous behavior among employees and are working to help reduce the risks of work-related car accidents in Boston and elsewhere.
To help get more companies on board, the National Safety Council (NSC) recently released new recommendations and new example policies aimed at getting working drivers to hang up the phone behind the wheel. It’s not just handheld phones that are being targeted. It’s hands-free devices too. Organizations, companies and employers are urged to review the free NSC Cell Phone Policy Kit and are urged to enact some sort of safety regulations within their business to help to keep workers safe on the job.
Our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys understand that traffic accidents continue to be the number one cause of work-related fatalities in the county. Nearly 40 percent of work-related deaths are associated with motor vehicles, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. From 2003 to 2009, an average of 1,300 workers died each year as a result of traffic-related accidents on public highways. During this time, another 320 workers were killed in roadway accidents that happened off the highway or on industrial premises, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
From 1998 to 2000, injuries resulting from these kinds of accidents, both on and off the job, were estimated to cost employers about $60 billion each year. On average, a fatal work accident cost a company about half a million in liability and direct costs. Injuries typically result in costs of nearly $75,000.
To help to reduce these types of accidents, the NSC has created a new Cell Phone Policy Kit for employer reference and use. The new kit reflects the current distracted driving trends and statistics. The kit can be used to help employers to create and enforce their own cell phone policy.
Included in the new Cell Phone Policy Kit:
-A letter from Janet Froetscher, NSC President and CEO.
-A letter from Deborah Hersman, NTSB Chairman.
-A list of popular FAQs regarding distracted driving and work-related accidents.
-A sample employee cell phone policy to help your company get started.
-Various posters and tip sheets to help to spread the word.
-A one year plan and roll out calendar.
-Various activities to help to get workers engaged and to help to communicate the dangers of distracted driving and cell phone use while driving.
Three teenagers in the state died as a result of work-related injuries in Massachusetts from 2004 to 2008. According to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, there were nearly 4,020 teen workers who were sent to emergency rooms statewide because of work-related accidents during that same time period. That means that there were three teenage workers injured for every 100 full-time equivalents. Nearly 1,000 workers under the age of 18 in the state filed workers’ compensation claims because of work-related accidents that resulted in at least five days out of work.
In 2009, about 20 percent of middle school students in the state reported working for pay, other than yard work or babysitting. Massachusetts Child Labor Laws prohibit most work for teens under age 14.
Our Woburn workers compensation lawyers understand that working is part of everyday life for many teens in the state. Nationwide, about 80 percent of teenagers are employed at some point throughout their high school days. In 2009, about 20 percent of 15- to 17-year-olds in the state of Massachusetts were employed at any given moment. Even with the struggling economy and fewer teens working now than in past years, we still rely on these young workers in many of our industries. We need to continue to help these young workers get a jump start. It’s important for us to keep an eye on their on-the-job safety and do our best to provide them with basic health and safety skills that will help to protect them through their working careers.
2009 Teen Stats — Work-Related Injuries in Massachusetts:
-Most work-related injuries that occurred to teens happened to 17-year-olds.
-Male teen workers have higher rates of injury than female teen workers.
-Hispanic teen workers have a higher rate of injury than non-Hispanic teen workers.
-Open wounds, including cuts, were the most common kind of injury to teen workers that resulted in an emergency department visit. Open wounds accounted for nearly 50 percent of all visits.
-Sprains were the most common injuries for which workers’ compensation lost time claims were filed. Sprains accounted for about 40 percent.
-The largest number of non-fatal injuries to young workers under age 18 happened in restaurants, accounting for nearly 30 percent of these injuries.
Before sending your teens out to earn their own, make sure they’re aware of their rights. Make sure they know what to do if they observe an on-the-job danger. Talk to them about what is expected of them on the job and what they should expect from their employer. Don’t send your teen out there with little knowledge on what’s expected in the work world. Make sure they’re knowledgeable, confident and ready to work. With summer approaching, this is more important than ever!