A Texas measure that would encourage school districts and educators to include workplace health and safety training information in the curricula of grades 7-12 schoolkids got a boost recently from American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) President Steven E. Lacey, PhD, CIH, CSP, who traveled to the state to testify in support of the bill at a House Public Education Committee hearing.

Permanent damage

"We tell our children to not play with matches and to be careful around swimming pools as soon as they are old enough to understand the message, but we rarely say a word about how to stay safe and healthy when they get their first job," Lacey said. "Teen workplace injuries can permanently damage kids and their families, cost the US economy billions of dollars each year, and they are preventable," he continued.

Nearly 80% of teens are currently in the workforce. Research shows that these teens are twice as likely to be injured at work compared to adults. As a result, nearly 60,000 teens end up in the emergency room annually from workplace injuries. 

In recognition of this problem, Texas State House Representative Dr. Greg Bonnen (R-24) introduced House Bill 2010.

AIHA + NIOSH = Safety Matters

During the hearing, President Lacey also discussed how AIHA partnered with experts at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to address the widespread problem of teen workplace health and safety issues by developing the Safety Matters program. This program raises awareness among teens in Grades 7 - 12 about workplace health and safety, and provides basic skills that contribute to a safe work environment. This program is 100% free, voluntary, with no special training required to deliver it.

AIHA hopes to see House Bill 2010 enacted into law before the State Legislature adjourns at the end of May, and views the Public Education Committee hearing as a positive sign of momentum. The Association, along with its six Local Sections in Texas, and American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), Institute for Safety and Health Management, and the National Safety Council recently sent letters to key Texas State Legislators in support of House Bill 2010. By enacting this bill, Texas would join a growing list of states that are taking steps to improve teen workplace health and safety.