As the summer employment season begins for adolescents, findings from six recent fatality reports by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) illustrate the need for vigilance and action to protect teen workers from job-related injury and death.
The NIOSH fatality reports describe six adolescent worker fatalities in diverse industries, including:
- A 16-year-old farmworker who died in a cotton-packing machine after being covered by a 3,500-pound load of cotton.
- A 16-year-old amusement-park attendant who died after being caught and dragged across a concrete floor by an operating amusement ride.
- A 15-year-old campground laborer who died after striking a trailer hitch on a camper while operating a utility vehicle in morning clean-up duties.
- Two 17-year-old construction laborers who died in separate incidents when the sides of trenches collapsed on them.
- A 16-year-old warehouse laborer who died after falling from and being caught under an overturning forklift.
"These tragedies underscore the fact that common occupations can be extremely hazardous for adolescent workers," said NIOSH Director Linda Rosenstock. "This year, we are pleased to participate again In with the U.S. Department of Labor in the annual ''Work Safe This Summer'' campaign to provide our many partners with information and recommendations for protecting young workers from injury and death on the job."
Each year, between 60 and 70 adolescents die from work-related injuries, hundreds more are hospitalized, and tens of thousands require treatment in hospital emergency rooms.
To prevent death and serious injury to teen workers, NIOSH recommends that employers know the laws covering child labor and safety, and that they provide safe employment and adequate supervision.
Available from NIOSH are informational materials designed specifically for teen workers, including a special poster for students under 18 that emphasizes occupational safety and health, and "Are You a Working Teen?," a brochure that provides additional information on the topic.
Visit the NIOSH Web site for more information at www.cdc.gov/niosh.
by Virginia Sutcliffe