Magazine article Techniques

Young Worker Safety: Are You Students and Classrooms Prepared?

Magazine article Techniques

Young Worker Safety: Are You Students and Classrooms Prepared?

Article excerpt

A young worker is dead after he fell from a farm tractor he was operating. Highway patrol stated the 15-year old lost his balance and fell from the tractor and was run over by a trailer. He v'as pronounced dead at the scene.

The need for teacher advocacy in safety education for students has never been greater. Every nine minutes, a teen in the United States is injured in the workplace. (1) With teens spending the majority of their time in schools, instructors have a great opportunity to make sure that students receive proper training to transition the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom into the workforce. In 2010, A there were approximately 17.5 million young workers representing 13 percent of the workforce for our country (Figure 1). (2) Knowing their worker rights, being able to recognize hazards and safety principles, and understanding the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) regulations can potentially help students work safely.

Based on current statistics, young workers. ages 16 to 24, continue to have the highest rates of work-related injuries and illnesses: greater than any other age group. According to the 2013 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, "The most disabling workplace injuries and illnesses in 2011 amounted to $55.4 billion in direct U.S. workers compensation costs. This translates into more than a billion dollars spent by businesses each week on the most disabling injuries." (3) It is our collective duty to ensure that our students do not become injury statistics.

At Risk: Why?

According to the National Institute kw Occupational Safety and Health, 80 percent of high school students will have a job prior to their graduation, which places these young men and women in a position to he at risk in the workplace. (4) For many students, a job can mean moving closer toward adulthood, gaining more independence or learning skills like ethical decision-making. money handling and interpersonal communication. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, young workers are at risk partly due to the various types of employment opportunities they seek, and they may be at an increased risk of injury and illness due to a lack or safety training and experience in the workplace. Because such a large percentage of students are entering the workforce, it is of the utmost importance that young workers are prepared to identify and respond to workplace safety hazards.

Young workers should know that. as employees, they have certain rights. By law, it is an employer's responsibility to provide a safe work environment: br employees, as well as give training about die risks and hazards associated with a job. It is an employee's right to receive training on the proper use and requirements of personal protective equipment, including but not limited to: hard Fiats. safety goggles, ear plugs and gloves.

It is also within students' rights to earn at least the federal minimum wage for their state. If your students are under the age of 18, there may be a limit to the maximum number of hours they are allowed to work or a restriction on the type of work and equipment they may work with. These young employees should feel confident and able to ask questions without fear of ridicule if instructions are unclear or if something in the workplace looks unsafe or is putting others at risk.

Questions your students should ask an employer include:

* What are the physical demands of' my job?

* What are my work hours?

* What kind of safety gear will I need to wear?

* What workplace hazards should I be aware or?

* Is there a safety and health training program?

Why Implement OSHA Training in the Classroom?

Often, teens begin their first job while they are still enrolled in high school, looking to become an apprentice, or they have joined an organization that requires hands-on experience for competition-based activities. …

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