Darlene Adkins, NCL vice president for fair labor standards policy, called for parents and teens alike to consider safety in summer youth employment.
"Don't let a summer dream job turn into a nightmare experience," said Adkins. "It's great to find a job, earn a little money to save and spend. But there's more to consider than a paycheck. First consider how to stay safe on the job."
The potential for injury on the job, especially for teenagers, is a serious one. Every 30 seconds, a young worker is injured on the job, and one teen dies from a workplace injury every 5 days. When the job market is tight, more teens are competing for fewer jobs and they may be more likely to ignore safety concerns.
This year's list includes both work that is currently prohibited for minors and work that should be prohibited, based on compelling statistics on occupational injury and death to working youth provided by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). According to NCL, five of the worst teen jobs in 2006 are:
- Agriculture Fieldwork and processing
- Construction and work in heights
- Outside Helper Landscaping, groundskeeping and lawn service
- Driver/Operator Forklifts, tractors and ATVs
- Traveling youth crews
Reform Urged for Laws on Teen Employment
Three of five of the worst jobs detailed in this alert (construction and work in heights; agriculture and agricultural processing; and driver/operator of forklifts, tractors and ATVs) would be prohibited or have "protections strengthened" if the Department of Labor promulgated rules to implement the recommendations in the NIOSH report, "NIOSH Recommendations to the U.S. Department of Labor for Changes to Hazardous Orders," which reviews a list of prohibited occupations for minors.
The NIOSH report is a comprehensive review of the existing industries, occupations and machinery that is prohibited for working minors in both agricultural and non-agricultural employment.
NCL stated that some of these regulations have not been updated in more than 60 years, long before the rise of popular teen workplaces such as fast food restaurants and convenience stores. Since the release of the report in 2002, NIOSH has recommended 17 new Hazardous Orders. As of yet, the Labor Department has not acted on the recommendations.
NCL compiles the five worst teen jobs each year using government statistics and reports, results from the Child Labor Coalition's annual survey of state labor departments, and news accounts of injuries and deaths. Statistics and examples of injuries for each job on the list are detailed in a report available at http://www.nclnet.org/labor/childlabor.