When teenagers go off to work-sometimes for the first time in their lives-parents want to know they will be safe in the workplace. Who will look out for their safety? Industrial hygienists are professionals who specialize in ensuring safe and healthy work environments for employees of all ages.
Are teenagers safe in the workplace? Do they know what to watch out for in terms of safety? Consider these statistics from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH):
• On average, 45 percent of American teens are employed each year-more than any other developed country.
• More than three million U.S. teens enter the workforce every summer and thousands of these teens are admitted to emergency rooms due to work-related injuries.
• Nearly 200,000 adolescents suffer injuries on the job and approximately 70 die from these injuries each year.
• Teens have the highest rate of nonfatal work-related injuries, even though they encounter the same potential on-the-job hazards as adults.
• The reasons for teen work-related accidents include lack of experience, gaps in current laws and enforcement, inexperienced supervisors, working in industries that don't generally hire professionals trained in industrial hygiene and/or safety, physical limitations due to lack of size and strength, and simple lack of maturity ("goofing off" on the job).
• The majority of deaths and injuries of teen workers on the job occur in retail stores and restaurants.
• Common potential hazards include automobile and machinery operation (for teens old enough for such tasks), working in high-homicide industries such as retail, working with or near electrical or hot equipment, working jobs with fall hazards, and working jobs requiring manual lifting.