EDC collaborates with the University of California, Berkeley, to develop youth worker safety training materials for students, teachers, and businesses that hire teenagers. Chris Miara conducted trainings in New Jersey, the Virgin Islands, and Georgia on youth and workplace hazards.
“Teenagers are at higher risk of being injured on the job than adults.
It’s not because they’re fearless or reckless or fooling around on the job. It’s partly because the places that hire teens—restaurants, grocery and convenience stores, gas stations, and retail settings—tend to have a lot of hazards. It’s also because teens often get asked to do potentially dangerous tasks for which they haven’t been trained. And, many teens don’t yet know how to assess risk or speak up and deal with it effectively.
EDC first became involved with youth worker safety in 1996, when the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) funded community-based programs to increase the safety of young workers. EDC and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health set up a pilot program in Brockton, Massachusetts, which led to our developing a curriculum for high school students. The Youth@Work: Talking Safety curriculum is now available in every state as well as selected territories to teach teens how to understand their rights and learn the skills they need to be safe in the workplace.
Now, EDC and UC Berkeley operate the Young Workers’ Safety Resource Center. Our goal is to increase the number of young people who are trained in workplace health and safety. The Talking Safety curriculum is one tool we use for teachers and students. The other tool is a workshop for employers of teens. We provide employers with basic information about how teen workers are different from adult workers, and why they need more intensive hands-on training and supervision.
In New Jersey and the Virgin Islands, we delivered a series of trainings to teams of teachers and the employers who hire their students, brought together by the State and Territorial Departments of Labor and Education. In Georgia, we trained vocational education teachers. Although they put a lot of emphasis on safety in their classrooms, where they teach carpentry and welding, they were enthusiastic about using what they learned to help their students prepare for a safer experience out in the workforce.
Child labor laws vary by state, but the issues don’t. When you’re talking about teenagers at work, they tend to work in the same kinds of places, with the same kind of hazards. It’s really important for youth to get some basic worker safety training in school, and for employers to make sure that all their employees are safe and receive safety training for the specific activities they will be doing at that workplace.”
EDC’s work with the Young Workers’ Safety Resource Center is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), through a subcontract from UC Berkeley.
Originally published on July 14, 2009