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Washington Department of Labor Addresses Teen Worker Injuries

June 5, 2019
Parents should talk to their teens about their job responsibilities and training.

As teens begin summer vacation, Washington's Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) is looking to educate young workers about their rights.

On-the-job injuries among young adults occur at a "signficantly higher" rate than older adults, according to the agency.

"Parents should ask whether their children are receiving safety instruction on the job and encourage them to speak up if they're asked to do something that they feel is unsafe," said Joshua Grice, manager of the L&I Employment Standards Program that oversees employment issues, in a statement. "Teens should also take an active role in safety at work by reporting potential hazards to managers and by putting their safety training into practice."

L&I data show the majority of injuries among young workers were preventable – a result of slips and falls, contacts with hot surfaces such as a stove or oven or being hit by a falling object.

Other common reported injuries Washington teens experienced included cuts and laserations (175 cases), sprains and strains (150 cases), and bruises and contusions (85 cases).

The agency is advising parents to talk to teens about their rights on the job and for teens and parents to have conversations about job responsibilities and the training they received.

Employers of teens received a record number of citations in 2018 for violating workplace rules. In total, 83 employers faced fines that added up to nearly $441,500. Violations so far this year are on pace to exceed last year's number, the L&I reported.

Most of the citations are for violating hours of work and for missing or late meal breaks and rest periods for teens between 16 and 17 years old. Companies also were cited for lacking parent/school authorization forms or not having evidence of a teen's age at the worksite.

"It's important for employers to emphasize safety, especially with young workers who are new to the workforce. Employers should also make sure that teens receive appropriate meals and rest periods, and work only the specified hours," Grice said.

About the Author

Stefanie Valentic

Stefanie Valentic was formerly managing editor of EHS Today, and is currently editorial director of Waste360.

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