The eye-catching poster, which features a row of injured figures with crutches, eye patches, slings and bandages, reads: “200,000 young workers are injured annually. Don’t be a statistic.” This poster, created by 16-year-old Shari Coté, won first place in the third annual Massachusetts Safe Jobs for Youth poster contest.
According to the latest available Massachusetts Department of Public Health data, teens in the Commonwealth under age 18 racked up 3,400 emergency department visits for work-related injuries from 2005 to 2009. That amounts to an average of nearly 700 work-related emergency visits every year for teens in Massachusetts.
“This poster contest gives teenagers a chance to contribute to the state and other teens by sharing an important message," said Coté. “I hope teenagers will learn that they should feel safe everywhere, and if there are any problems or dangers where they work, they should speak up about them.”
A total of 170 teens participated in the poster contest, with 60 youth serving as judges. As the winner, Coté received a cash prize of $500, and her poster will soon be seen on MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority) transportation vehicles.
Second place went to Chiara Lowell and third place to Victoria Hamilton, who took home prizes of $300 and $100 respectively. Eight honorable mentions also were awarded.
“I want to congratulate Shari Coté and the other winners who have put their creativity and talent to use for the important goal of keeping young workers safe on the job,” said Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Joanne F. Goldstein. “We have strong laws in the Commonwealth to keep all workers safe on the job, and the Safe Jobs for Youth Poster Contest helps provide us with more opportunities to reach teens. Education and awareness are key to making sure younger workers, new to the workplace, know of their rights and stand up to insure their enforcement.”
The poser contest was co-sponsored by the MA Departments of Public Health, Education, Labor Standards, Industrial Accidents, the Office of the Attorney General, Commonwealth Corporation, U.S. Department of Labor and MassCOSH.