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Young workers, old story: Too many injuries

The special health section in Monday's Boston Globe featured a cover story about an issue important to every parent and, hopefully, every employer: workplace safety for young workers, particularly teenagers.

We know that inexperienced workers are twice as likely to be hurt at work as experienced employees. And, of course, by their very nature, teenagers are inexperienced. Couple that with the fact that they are often hired to do jobs with inherent danger and you have a potential tragedy.

What's the answer? Well, in part, it's training and supervision. And yet, this is reported in Elizabeth Cooney's story from the Globe:

When researchers from the Teens at Work Project interviewed 208 teens under age 18 who had been injured at work from 2003 through 2007, about half said they had no safety training. About 15 percent said there was no supervisor on site when they were hurt. Almost a quarter said they had no work permit.

This is inexcusable. If you have teen workers, make sure they get the training they need. And if you're a parent of a teen worker, ask them about safety. Have they been trained? Is someone supervising them when they are engaged in potentially dangerous tasks?

Work teaches lots of valuable lessons, but if the lesson comes from a workplace injury, its price is too high.

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