Getting a summer job is a time-honored American tradition. No matter whether you're saving up for your first semester at college or just trying to help out your parents, nothing says you're on your way to adulthood like joining the workforce.
Unfortunately, not every aspect of employment is positive, and as you're building your résumé, you may experience the downsides firsthand. While having to get up on time and act responsibly can be unpleasant, they pale in comparison to the risks of workplace injuries that many teens face.
Understanding the odds you're up against
Employees of all ages are in danger of getting injured on the job, but some face greater hazards than others. For instance, federal statistics showed that although only 23 individuals under the age of 18 died after getting hurt at work in 2015, workers who were less than 25 years old were two times likelier than other groups to get hurt badly enough to need to go to the hospital.
Years prior, government studies revealed that the vast majority of job injuries that teens sustained occurred in fields like the fast food industry. Although males were likely to suffer burns and lacerations, or torn tissue wounds, females were also at risk of incidents involving strains, sprains and contusions, or bruises.
Various state-level assessments have also shown that many teens face unacceptably high risks of harm on the job. In other words, this isn't a limited problem, so it's important to take precautions.
Staying safe at work
How can teens protect themselves from workplace injuries? Start by staying informed.
You may feel enthusiastic to find work and wary of questioning your new boss, but you and your parents have a right to know about the exact nature of the jobs you'll be performing. Some situations to watch out for may include:
- Employers who seem reluctant to share information
- Companies that ask you to perform risky tasks without providing safety training or protective equipment
- Firms that send you to job sites underprepared for conditions like extreme weather
Always get yourself in the right frame of mind before starting your new work. No matter what you're doing, you should always check out tools like OSHA's young worker safety resources and your state's Equal Employment Opportunity office website. Also bear in mind that if things go wrong, it might be good to obtain legal representation so that you can seek compensation.