Foulke's First Task: Kick Off Teen Job Safety Initiative

In his first public appearance as OSHA's new administrator, Edwin Foulke launched a new summer job safety campaign aimed to protect teen workers at a Virginia high school that offers its students technical and specialized programs.

"Summer is peak time for teen employment," said Foulke, who was sworn in April 3. "We're launching this safety campaign now to help educate teens on workplace dangers and offer solid safety tips that will help them stay safe and healthy on the job."

The Teen Summer Job Safety Campaign, a multi-year project, will focus on industries young people are likely to work in during their high school and college years. This year the agency focused on landscaping, an industry that made the National Consumer's League's 2005 Five Worst Teen Jobs.

As Foulke reminisced about his first summer job, which happened to be in landscaping, he remembered how his supervisor wasn't careful to warn him about some of the job's hazards. He reminded high school students that their employers should provide them with the proper safety equipment and training when they start working this summer.

"Every year, you and millions of other young people join the U.S. work force for the first time and will be eager to succeed," he said. "Sometimes that enthusiasm can put you at risk of workplace injury. I am not telling you to be afraid, but I will ask you to be cautious."

For students who were interested in pursuing summer jobs in landscaping, Foulke told them they could access an online resource kit that would educate them about injury prevention, as well as make them aware of potential industry hazards, including machinery, pesticides and sun and heat.

Some of the high school students participated in a demonstration on safe work practices for landscaping, in which an OSHA official showed them how to wear safety goggles and carry heavy equipment. One student, 18-year-old Elvis Herrera, said he found the event to be educational.

"I'll be working in construction this summer and I knew about the standard risks and that I had to wear a hard hat and be careful," he said. 'I didn't know that lifting heavy materials and needing to wear earplugs would make a difference in keeping safe."

Foulke also signed a 2-year alliance renewal with Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), whose members provide landscape and horticultural services, during the kickoff event. The alliance's renewal will allow OSHA and PLANET to provide industry employees, including youth, with information and guidance in helping them to reduce injuries.

Asked how things were going in his new position as OSHA's new assistant secretary of Labor, Foulke replied, "There are many issues that I am learning about and continuously working on and I am just excited to be here."

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