Many teens take on part-time work during the school year and sometimes full-time work in the summer to generate spending money or to help pay for college. While work can build skills and discipline, however, it can also be dangerous. In addition to car accidents, on-the-job personal injuries are among the top causes of fatalities among young people. Experts and Workers’ Compensation Boards claim that many workplace injuries involving minors are very preventable. According to experts, the main, preventable, reasons for workplace injuries include:
1) Lack of worker training and safety precautions. Employers are required by law to create safe working conditions, but not all employers are conscientious about doing so. Many young workers may not be comfortable speaking out about possible safety violations, may not notice these violations or may not be aware of their legal rights.
2) Young workers who are so eager to please that they do not ask questions about work safety. Many young workers want to make a good impression and may not have the work experience to ask about workplace safety.
3) Lack of understanding about workplace risks or safety rules. Some young workers report that they don’t really understand the safety instructions they are given but fail to admit this fact to employers because they are eager to make a good impression. Many young workers do not understand the risks of a job or do not appreciate the dangers of a job.
Young workers can make choices about workplace safety when they interview for a new job. Experts recommend that young workers ask their employers and potential employers these questions about work safety:
1) What are the hazards – such as burn injuries, ear injuries and other personal injuries — I may encounter on this job? What can I do to reduce these dangers?
2) Will workplace training and safety training be provided? When will I receive this training and what will it cover?
3) Will I be trained in emergency procedures and in proper use of safety gear? When will I receive this training and what will it cover?
4) What are my responsibilities in the workplace to stay safe and to promote a safe workplace?
5) If I have a question about safety, who should I ask?
6) Are there safety meetings or publications where I can learn more?
7) What is the proper thing to do if I am hurt?
Experts also recommend that young employees considering a new job take a good look around their new workplace for signs that the employer is serious about safety. Protective equipment, warning signs and safety posters can all indicate that safety is a consideration in the workplace. Experts also recommend that young workers do their own reaserch into safety rules. Asking for a copy of the safety rules, learning about personal protective equipment and looking up the names of chemicals in the workplace is a good place to start. Learning about WHMIS safety symbols and common job hazards can help ensure safety.