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Speaking to Your Teen About Workplace Safety and Workers’ Compensation Is Easier Than You May Think

You can prepare your son or daughter to face the challenges of the workplaceWhen your child comes of age—16 to 18 years old—it’s important to encourage him to pursue a job. Working at a young age allows your teen to:

  • Learn important skills.
  • Improve his focus.
  • Increase his integrity and work ethic.
  • Build his confidence and independence.
  • Gain responsibilities as a young adult.

Unfortunately, working with little to no experience can also create some problems.

The Workplace Can Be Hazardous for Teens and Young Adults

Teens are new to the workforce and may not have the skills or maturity to keep themselves safe. When you go to work, you have the experience necessary to determine several things: your qualifications, the training you need to complete a job, your limitations, and your rights. Teens are seldom aware of many of these important factors in job safety, and often dive into a task headfirst without taking proper precautions. Unfortunately, their inexperience not only increases their risk of injury but also makes them less aware of their rights as an employee.

While one would think that teens are actually less susceptible to injury because of their age and overall health, age is one of the contributing factors to many on-the-job incidents.

  • Strength and skills. Because of their lack of experience in supervisory positions, younger workers may be given more physically demanding tasks—grunt work—than seasoned workers. This type of work may be too much for their developing musculoskeletal systems to handle.
  • Naiveté. As young people strive to “fit in” and earn their keep at work, they may end up pushing themselves beyond their physical ability or ignoring dangers, setting the stage for future occupational illness or even immediate injury.
  • Inexperience. Since the workplace is new to teenagers, many of them do not know what to expect, what to question, or what to view as being suspicious.

Keep Your Teen Safe by Keeping Him Informed

It’s no surprise to learn that teens are relatively accident-prone. Whether you have teenagers or know teenagers, you’ve probably experienced their carelessness (and resulting injuries) firsthand as they horsed around with their friends or tried to impress those around them. Even the most responsible teens get injured fairly regularly; thankfully, most of these injuries are minor wounds. Unfortunately, this aptitude for injury may show a significant correlation between immaturity and a worker’s susceptibility to workplace injuries.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) takes the safety of young workers very seriously as a result of their increased risks for injury. However, OSHA’s protection is only effective if your teen knows his rights under the law.

This is where you come in. By teaching your child his working rights and explaining to him what OSHA is and how it protects workers like him, you can shield him from workplace injury consequences. Before your teen’s first day of work, sit him down and explain the following:

  • He has the right to work in a safe place. Employers must follow all of OSHA’s safety and health standards to keep their employees from being injured or becoming ill. This includes providing adequate safety gear and equipment as well as safety training.
  • He has the right to receive safety and health training. Make sure your child knows that he should receive thorough training in safety procedures and precautions before he begins his duties. Furthermore, this training must be in a language that he understands.
  • He has the right to ask questions. If he doesn’t understand instructions or if something seems unsafe, let your child know that it is his responsibility to question his employer and get the answers he needs to stay safe.
  • He has the right to exercise workplace safety without retaliation or discrimination. Explain to your child that if he believes there is a serious hazard at his work or that his employer is not following OSHA standards, he has the right and obligation to file a complaint with OSHA.

Despite the fact that you can’t go to work with your children, you can arm them with the confidence and knowledge that is essential to help them transition into safe, working adults. Please share this article with your friends, family, and the teenagers in your life. It is important for them to know their rights and avoid being injured on the job.

For more information on how to protect your child before and after a workplace injury, contact attorney Steve Lee today. With over 40 years of experience in workers’ compensation and injury law, he has the resources, knowledge, and ability to help you with all aspects of filing a claim.


Steven M. Lee
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