As the school year comes to a close, many employers will hire teenagers for summer jobs. Although the number of employed teenagers dropped drastically since 2008, those numbers are slowly rising again. In 2011, the number of youths (16 to 24 years old) employed in the United States was 18.6 million—an increase of 1.7 million from 2010 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Hiring teens can prove to be very beneficial for employers, teens and the community. With the trend on the rise, it is a great time to revisit the best ways to manage your risk.
Higher injury ratesInjury rates are higher among teenagers. Statistics for 2011 shows that the non-fatal injury rate for employees 15 to 17 years old was double the injury rate for employees 25 and older. The higher injury rate can be attributed to a lack of experience and an under-appreciation for workplace hazards. The lack of work experience disqualifies most teenagers from more technical jobs, so they accept positions that are more hazardous by nature or involve manual labor which is inherently more risky. According to the National Consumer League, the five most dangerous jobs for teenagers last summer were:
Agriculture—harvesting crops and using machinery
Construction and height work
Driver/Operator—forklifts, tractors, ATVs
Outside labor—landscaping, grounds keeping and lawn service
Managing the riskOSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) suggests following these simple steps to prevent injuries to working teens:
Give clear instructions and safety precautions to take.
Ask for your instructions to be repeated and give an opportunity for questions.
Demonstrate how to perform tasks.
Observe tasks being performed and correct any mistakes.
Demonstrate how to use safety equipment.
Prepare teens for emergencies.
Ask if there are any additional questions.
Taking these simple steps can drastically reduce risk of injury while encouraging safe working habits for all employees.