Today's News / Environmental and Occupational Health

ASSE: Teens working summer jobs should learn their (safety) rights

July 6, 2012
KEYWORDS ASSE / safety / teens / training
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ASSEWith summer in full swing, and many teens working a summer job, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) reminds  young workers about the importance of staying safe at on the job. Whether it be landscaping, bagging groceries or working at the local store, teens must be aware of any on the job safety risks, what training is available, their rights as an employee and what job tasks that by law they are not allowed to perform.

Earning their own money, making new friends, gaining valuable work experience and just having fun are a few of the many positive reasons for a teenager to enter the workforce. However, young people should not lose sight of their own safety, whether they are working in a restaurant, as a life guard, in retail or on a paper route.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), a U.S. teen is injured on the job every nine minutes. In 2010, 88 teens between the ages of 13 and 19 were killed on the job, and in 2009, more than 26,500 between the ages of 15 and 17 sustained injuries serious enough to send them to the emergency room.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that some of the most common causes of recent teen workplace fatalities include; collision between vehicles or mobile equipment, being struck by a vehicle, being struck by a falling object, accidents with running equipment or machinery and assaults or other violent acts.

“With eighty-eight young lives cut short by work place fatalities, ASSE has made it a priority, especially during the summer months to make teens aware of the importance of taking steps to stay safe, and also to be aware of their rights in the workplace,” said ASSE President Terrie S. Norris, CSP, ARM, CPSI of Sacramento, CA-based Bickmore Risk Services.

By federal law employers must; provide a safe and healthy place to work, provide needed safety gear such as ear plugs, gloves, safety glasses and clothing, provide safety training using words employees can understand and inform employees about hazards on a jobsite.

Young workers also have their own responsibilities, which include; asking their supervisor about safety training and learning about dangers before starting a job or a new task, reporting safety and health hazards to their supervisor, staying alert and working safely, not taking shortcuts and looking out for fellow workers.

With over 34,000 members in the occupational safety, health and environmental (SH&E) profession, ASSE is continuing its efforts to educate teens, parents and employers on work safety, with its “Target Teen Work Safety” electronic tool kit designed to provide information on what questions to ask, what current youth labor laws are, the most frequent types of injuries and tips for teens to stay safe on the job. The tool kit can be found at

“Target Teen Work Safety” includes the popular online game “Don’t be a Zombie at Work” (; SH&E literature; a safety first PowerPoint presentation; teens at work safety quiz; and the NIOSH young worker guide

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