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Safety training can prevent workplace accidents involving teens

This is the time of the year when many young workers enter the New York workforce -- as permanent employees in their first jobs, or teens taking on temp jobs for the summer. Every year there are reports of teen workers who die in tragic workplace accidents within days of starting employment. In most cases, these deaths result from a lack of safety training and/or inadequate supervision.

Employers don't always realize that the combination of youth, inexperience and a sense of invincibility makes teenage workers vulnerable. To prevent such tragedies, safety authorities say that teen workers must be fully briefed on their duties and the potential safety risks before they are allocated any tasks. Furthermore, even if they will only be there for the summer, full safety training must be provided.

Employers must also allocate supervisors to monitor young workers -- preferably individuals who can communicate well with teenagers while they are also committed to safety in the work environment. Pairing young workers with experienced employees who are slightly older but responsible enough to provide valuable on-the-job training can teach them to comply with safety regulations from a young age. It is also important to teach them how to recognize hazards in the workplace.

Authorities further remind New York employers that it is their responsibility to make sure teen workers do not operate machines and equipment that are unsafe and illegal for use under a certain age. Teenagers typically have inquiring minds, and encouraging them to ask questions and get involved in creating safer environments might help to prevent tragic workplace accidents. Young workers must also be trained in the procedures to follow if they were injured at work, to ensure timely filing of reports and claims with the workers' compensation insurance system.

Source: safetyandhealthmagazine.com, "Protect your teen workers", Accessed on July 22, 2017

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