NIOSH Seeks Help In Protecting Young Workers

It's little surprise that 18- to 34-year-olds are at the heart of a nationwide increase in illegal drug use, and the manufacturing industry traditionally draws heavily from this pool of job seekers.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is looking for a few good researchers in its mission to promote the safety of construction workers under the age of 18.

The goal is to determine what changes, if any, are needed to Department of Labor (DOL) regulations that prohibit minors to work on extremely hazardous work sites. According to DOL, 62 workers under the age of 18 were killed in 1997, and NIOSH estimates that 70,000 youths required emergency room treatment for serious injuries.

NIOSH reports that construction jobs consistently produced the most deaths among workers who were 16 to 17 years old. Fifteen percent of youth fatalities in the workplace occur in construction jobs, although only 2.5 percent of all adolescent workers are engaged in construction activities. Only those working in retail and agricultural jobs were more likely to die on the job.

Regarding NIOSH teaming with the Employment Standards Administration (ESA) and the outside scientific community, NIOSH Director Linda Rosenstock said, "Our partnership will generate new data that are critically needed to protect the safety and health of adolescent workers in the construction industry, a population that appears to face a disproportionately high risk of job-related injury and death."

ESA, part of DOL, has extended $550,000 to fund up to five research grants. Researchers who submitted letters of intent to apply for the grants have until June 30 to submit their applications. Grants will be awarded by Sept. 1.

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