The Washington Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) is encouraging all employers to ensure that job safety is a key focus as summer hiring season is set to start. According to the L&I, many seasonal workers in the summer are teens or minors and workers under 18 are injured on the job twice as often as adults. The L&I is calling for more training, good supervision and lots of repetition to reduce the accident rate. To prevent injuries to minors and children, the L&I is also encouraging employers to obey laws which prevent teens from working with dangerous equipment and materials.
Research by the L&I suggests that almost half of the injuries to minors take place during the initial six months on a new job. Most of these injuries are slips and falls, burn injuries, and cuts, but some are fatal or lead to life-long disability. Each year, some teens die while working a summer job.
According to the L&I, minors on the job are more at risk because they do not recognize risks which may appear obvious to older workers. At the same time, younger workers may be less willing to ask a supervisor questions. Therefore, it is important for employers to explain all risks to teen employees and to teach employees how to avoid or minimize those risks.
The good news is that workplace injuries to minors have been reduced by almost one-third in the past ten years. The L&I believes that with some effort on the part of employers, this number can be reduced even more.
Florida has a strong seasonal summer work force, and some of those workers are minors. Florida minors routinely take amusement park jobs, lifeguard jobs, clerical jobs, and agricultural jobs, to name just a few, in order to earn spending money or in order to save for college. Even younger children may decide to try a paper route or some other employment to earn money during the summer.
Employers hiring children or minors need to ensure that they follow all laws regarding employment of minors. Employers should also provide extra supervision and training for their employees. Choosing age-appropriate work for younger employees is also an excellent idea. Younger workers can be enthusiastic and a valuable addition to the workplace. A little extra care from employers can keep these workers safer on the job, as well.