|Could I Get Hurt or Sick on the Job?
Every year about 70 teens die from work
injuries in the United States. Another 70,000 get hurt badly enough that they go to a hospital emergency room.
Here are the stories of three teens:
18-year-old Sylvia caught her hand in an
electric cabbage shredder at a fast food
restaurant. Her hand is permanently disfigured and she'll never have full use of it again.
17-year-old Joe lost his life while working as a construction helper. An electric shock killed him when he climbed a metal ladder to hand an electric drill to another worker.
16-year-old Donna was assaulted and robbed at gunpoint at a sandwich shop. She was working alone after 11 p.m.
Why do injuries like these occur?
Teens are often injured on the job due to unsafe equipment, stressful conditions, and speed-up. Also teens may not receive adequate safety training and supervision. As a teen, you are much more likely to be injured when working on jobs that you are not allowed to do by law.
What Are My Rights on the Job?
By law, your employer must provide:
- A safe and healthful workplace.
- Safety and health training, in many situations, including providing information on chemicals that could be harmful to your health.
- For many jobs, payment for medical care if you get hurt or sick because of your job. You may also be entitled to lost wages.
- At least the federal minimum wage of $8.75 to most teens
You also have a right to:
- Report safety problems to OSHA.
- Work without racial or sexual harassment.
- Refuse to work if the job is immediately dangerous to your life or health.
- Join or organize a union.
What Hazards Should I Watch Out For?
Janitor/Clean-up: toxic chemicals in cleaning products, blood on discarded needles
Food Service: slippery floors, hot cooking equipment, sharp objects
Retail/Sales: violent crimes, heavy lifting
Office/Clerical: stress, harassment, poor computer work station design
Is It OK to Do Any Kind of Work?
NO! There are laws that protect teens from doing dangerous work.
No worker under 18 may:
- Drive a motor vehicle as a regular part of the job or operate a forklift at any time.
- Operate many types of powered equipment like a circular saw, box crusher, meat slicer, or bakery machine.
- Work in wrecking, demolition, excavation, or roofing.
- Work in mining, logging, or a sawmill.
- Work in meat-packing or slaughtering.
- Work where there is exposure to radiation.
- Work where explosives are manufactured or stored.
Also, no one 14 or 15 years old may:
Are There Other Things I Can't Do?
YES! There are many other restrictions regarding the type of work you can and cannot do.
If you are under 14, there are even stricter laws to protect your health and safety.
Provinces have their own child labor laws which may be stricter than the federal laws.
Check with your school counselor, job placement coordinator, or Department of Labor to make sure the job you are doing is allowed.
What Are My Safety Responsibilities on the Job?
To work safely you should:
- Follow all safety rules and instructions.
- Use safety equipment and protective clothing when needed.
- Look out for co-workers.
- Keep work areas clean and neat.
- Know what to do in an emergency.
- Report any health and safety hazard to your supervisor.
What If I Need Help?
- Talk to your boss about the problem.
- Talk to your parents or teachers.
- For a Hazard Alert on preventing injuries and deaths of adolescent workers or for information on specific workplace hazards, contact NIOSH at 1-800-35-NIOSH (1-800-356-4674) and ask for Report #95-125 or click here to visit the NIOSH homepage.
- For more information on working safe, visit the Department of Labor web site