It’s summertime, which means more teens and young adults are joining the workforce, both long term and for temporary summer jobs. Statistically there is an increase in workplace injuries during the summer due young workers’ lack of work experience and safety training. To help combat youth work related injuries, OSHA has recently entered into a 2-year initiative called the “National Youth Safety Initiative.”
Under this initiative, OSHA will be proactive in providing young workers, aged 16-24, and their administrators and educators with detailed information about job related injuries that commonly affect young workers. During this 2-year program, participants will promote safety and health awareness to young employees, spreading statistics about common injuries that occur in the agriculture, healthcare and construction industries specifically.
OSHA and participating employers will educate youth workers about common injuries and illnesses such as slips and falls, exposure to hazardous chemicals and exposure to heavy machinery. This information will be shared through webinars, publications commonly read by teens and young adults, workshops, seminars and more. Participants in the National Youth Safety Initiative will also provide notices and reminders about occupational health and safety regulations and the rights and expectations of employers.
Every business owner knows that safety should be a priority all year, but precautionary measures should be heightened in the summer months due to the increase in young, inexperienced team members joining their staff. Due to the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers have to pay close attention to youth workers and their exposure to risks. These risks not only include chemicals and machinery, but also shift duration. Depending on the employee’s age, he or she may only be legally allowed to work for 3 hours in a given day. (On school days, 14-15 year olds can only work up to 3 hours in a day.) During the summer, teen workers are expected to stop work at 8 hours or sooner.
OSHA’s latest initiative is designed to limit the number of workplace injuries to protect young workers, but businesses are also responsible for protecting their own liability. Along with sharing safety tips and regulations, businesses should also be proactive in making their work staff aware of potential injuries. Along with safety training, safety signs should be posted throughout warehouses and worksites to remind employees of potential harm.
A warning, caution or danger sign should be posted depending on the severity of bodily harm inherent to a situation. For example, areas where slips and falls commonly happen should be marked with a caution sign. Caution usually denotes an injury that can cause moderate injury. However, in areas where employees are exposed to high voltage that could result in death, a danger sign should be posted.
Signage should be well maintained and highly visible. Materials and other blockages should not prevent a worker from seeing a warning sign. As signage becomes dated and worn, it should be updated. From flammable materials signs to emergency eye wash station signs, CustomSigns.com has the appropriate signage for each work setting. Make sure you are aware of the risks inherent to your business and warn staff members accordingly.
As OSHA and participating employers take proactive steps toward improving workplace safety for youth workers, make sure you’re doing everything you can to make your business a safer place to work.
More details about the Youth Safety Initiative: https://safety.blr.com/workplace-safety-news/safety-administration/safety-general/Schools-out-Protect-teen-workers-on-the-job/