Whether it is to financially help out their families, have spending money, pay for school, or some other reason, many young people work. In 2016, there were about 19.3 million workers under the age of 24, and these workers represented 13% of the total workforce, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. While working at an early age can do wonders in terms of youth development and instilling a positive work ethic, unfortunately, the rates of job-related injury for young workers are high. From slippery floors to sharp objects, there are numerous reasons why young workers get injured on the job, including:
- Improper safety training
- Insufficient supervision
- Stress from pressure to work faster
- Hazardous working conditions
- Dangerous equipment
- Working while sleep-deprived
Job risks and responsibilities vary from job to job, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, there are general safety tips that young workers can follow to ensure safety while on the job, whatever that job might be. In addition, all states have laws regulating the employment of those under the age of 18. Companies should familiarize themselves with these rules and take steps to implement them.
Tips for Staying Safe in the Workplace
As a young worker, you may be more concerned with doing a good job and making a positive impression on your boss than anything else, or you may be reluctant to ask questions out of fear of coming off as annoying. Regardless, your safety comes first, so it is crucial that you follow safety tips including, but not limited to, the following.
- Ask questions. Ask about the dangers associated with your job, job safety training, safety gear, and emergency protocol. If you have questions, ask. Further, parents should take an active role in ensuring their children work in safe environments.
- Follow the safety rules. If you perform your job in accordance with the safety guidelines, you are less likely to become injured.
- Know your rights, your employer’s responsibilities, and the safety rules of the company. If you are not aware of your rights at work or your employer’s responsibilities to you, you can check them out on this Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) webpage. To review your employer’s safety rules, you should ask for a copy.
- If you need help, ask for help. Do not try to do something by yourself that you know requires more than one person. Not asking for help can sometimes result in you seriously injuring yourself.
- Be aware of warning signs. For example, there may be a caution sign near an area that is wet in order to alert people so they do not slip and fall. Be cognizant of warning signs, so you do not walk into a hazardous situation.
- Report unsafe conditions to your boss. The longer an unsafe condition goes unreported, the longer it poses a threat to the safety of you and others. Even if you think someone else may have already reported an unsafe condition, still report it yourself.
- If you are severely sleep-deprived, think twice about working. Sleep deprivation has been shown by numerous studies to drastically decrease cognitive functions and impair a person in a way that is comparable to alcohol. When sleep-deprived, you are more likely to injure yourself and possibly those around you. Open lines of communication should flow between young workers, parents, and supervisors at work.
OSHA – Young Workers
United States Department Of Labor- Youth Worker Safety & Health