The summer months bring an influx of summer jobs, and teen workers to fill them. In fact, 2.7 million teens entered the workforce during the 2014 summer. While jobs provide an important opportunity for kids to learn skills, workplace behavior, and responsibility, they can also be quite dangerous.
Young people are especially vulnerable to on-the-job injuries for several reasons. First of all, lack of life experience in general makes teen workers less able to respond to certain situations, including emergencies. Additionally, teens often lack experience specific to their job because summer jobs provide little time for thorough training. However, the most significant factor in teens’ workplace injuries is their tendency to engage in risky behaviors, and to not report another’s inappropriate or dangerous actions.
State and Federal Restrictions
Two hundred thousand teens are injured at work every year, and half of these injuries are serious enough to require a trip to the hospital. Teens are twice as likely to be injured on the job as their older counterparts. These staggering numbers resulted in the creation of federal and state laws that regulate teen employees. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law prohibiting young people under 18 from working “hazardous” jobs. These include vocations that require mining, logging, roofing, baking, and the operation of a motor vehicle, among others.
Additional restrictions for young workers exist to protect them from danger as well as from being overworked, or taken advantage of, by an employer. For instance, children between the ages of 14 and 16 may only work limited hours, and that work must not interfere with their schooling. However, there are exceptions to this rule. The agriculture industry permits children as young as 12 to work on the family farm, despite the hazards associated with farming. Individual state laws are often more restrictive than federal laws.
How to Keep Working Teens Safe
- For Employers: Education is the best way to prevent serious injury and death in the workplace. This is true for all workers, not just teens. However, it’s especially important to take the time to train teen workers, even if the job is only seasonal.
- For Employers: Ensure that all teen workers are aware of safety policies, and encourage them to ask questions if they are unsure about anything.
- For Parents: Talk to your kids before they start a summer job.Tell them to report work hazards or dangerous situations to their employer. Let them know that they can come to you if they feel uncomfortable or unsafe at any time. Remind them that work is not the place for risky behavior.
- In General: The Department of Labor has a “Youth Rules” website which provides extensive information on ways to prevent teen injuries at work. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) website also has significant information.
Altman & Altman, LLP – Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
If your teenage child has been injured on the job, it is in your best interest to talk to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney before making any decisions. You may be entitled to compensation for damages, such as medical bills, and pain and suffering. The MA Law Firm of Altman & Altman, LLP will assess the details of your case to determine your options. Our dedicated workers’ compensation attorneys have been protecting the rights of employees for nearly 50 years. Workplace injuries are more common in teens than in any other age group. Quite often, the lack of training is