OSHA Aims to Keep Teen Workers Safe and Healthy this Summer

WASHINGTON— As millions of American teens prepare for their summer jobs, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is focusing on keeping these vulnerable workers safe and healthy.  While teen workers earn extra money and gain valuable work experience, the risk of a serious or even fatal injury is present.

“Summer is peak time for teen employment,” said OSHA Administrator Ed Foulke. “Every year, young people join the U.S. workforce for the first time.  Their enthusiasm and eagerness to succeed can put them at risk of workplace injury.  We do not want to tell them to be afraid, but we do want them be to be cautious.  That is why we are working to help educate teens on workplace dangers and offer solid safety tips that will help them stay safe and healthy on the job.”

Approximately 80 percent of U.S. teens work annually at some time during their high school years, many during the summer.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2004, more than 38,000 teen workers were injured on the job, and another 134 were fatally injured.

To address this challenge, OSHA recently kicked-off its Teen Summer Job Safety Campaign, a multi-year campaign that will focus on industries that young people are likely to work in during high school or college.  This year’s campaign theme is Landscaping — Plant Your Feet on Safe Ground.”

As part of the campaign, OSHA developed a resource kit to educate young workers, parents, employers and educators on workplace safety, The kit — which can be downloaded at www.osha.gov/SLTC/teenworkers/index.html – offers educational resources such as fact sheets on workplace rights and responsibilities, hazards on the job, ways to prevent injuries, work hours, job restrictions and more.

OSHA also developed a series of drop-in articles — brief ready-for-publication articles — that discuss common summer job hazards and injuries, and how to avoid them.  The articles address working in the Sun and heat, protecting against pesticide hazards, avoiding strains and sprains, and working safely in landscaping.

Video samples of landscaping safety tips — a collection of safety demonstrations performed by high school students — along with high-resolution photos for each demonstration, are available online in the OSHA Newsroom. Background video (B-roll) is available upon request.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA’s role is to assure the safety and health of America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health.  For more information, visit www.osha.gov or contact Frank Meilinger at Phone 202-693-1999