Some 23 million young people are expected to seek summer jobs this year. When they enter the workforce, there’s a good chance they won’t receive much training – if any at all – on workplace violence.
According to a survey of teen retail workers by the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH), 74 percent never received training on workplace violence or health and safety. MassCOSH is one of five organizations involved in “Teens Lead @ Work,” a national education program that trains teen safety leaders to educate their peers and co-workers on how to recognize and prevent workplace violence.
Funded by a Susan Harwood training grant, the program’s training sessions will reach hundreds of young workers this summer in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco, educating them on their rights and responsibilities in the workplace. Through roleplay and discussion, peer educators illustrate how to respond to common hazards, such as how to reduce the risk of violence during robberies at retail establishments.
“This is a unique opportunity to reach out to young workers with life-saving information,” OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels said. “Of course it’s the employer’s responsibility to provide a safe workplace. But educating young workers to identify hazardous situations can give them the confidence they need to speak up at work and ask for the training and protections they need to be safe.”
Along with MassCOSH, the Teens Lead @ Work network includes the Labor Occupational Health Program at the University of California Berkeley, the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), the Philadelphia Project on Occupational Safety and Health (PhilaPOSH) and the Southern California Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (SoCalCOSH).
Sadly, recent fatalities illustrate the ongoing hazards that teenagers face in the workplace.
- Joseph Morante, 19, was fatally shot in 2013 while working at a cellphone store in Boston.
- Jamil Bader Jr., 18, who was shot and killed in 2012 during a robbery at his family’s delicatessen in Newark, N.J.
- Christine LoBrutto, 18, was shot and killed in 2012 by a co-worker while working on the third shift stocking shelves at the Pathmark store in Old Bridge, N.J.
“Workplace violence affects teens all over the nation, so it is important that every worker – especially young workers – know about their rights and resources,” said Alice Kuang, 16, a peer leader with UC Berkeley’s Labor Occupational Health Program.