The main threats to teens are often said to involve drugs, alcohol, or car crashes. But there’s another risk most parents might not think of: work.
Labor laws limit the kinds of jobs that kids younger than 18 can hold and the hours they can work. Still, tens of thousands of teens are badly hurt at work each year, says the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Injuries range from cuts and burns to sprains and broken bones. Hazards run the gamut from box cutters and hot stoves to slippery floors. Boys get hurt more often, in part because they tend to wind up with tasks that involve lifting and operating equipment. Girls, who often work with money as cashiers, are exposed to violence from robberies. They’re also at risk as they walk to their cars after evening or night shifts.
Farming seems to be the most dangerous job. Teens also get hurt in restaurants, supermarkets, retail stores, and other places where they find after-school and summer work.
Some advice for parents. First, recognize that kids’ jobs may not be safe. Take an interest in what they’re doing, visit the workplace, and ask lots of questions. Find out what’s expected of them, who’s supervising them, and whether they’re being properly trained.
Parents need to be aware of what the laws are so they can hold employers accountable and, if necessary, bring problems to the attention of the appropriate authorities.
Parents, teens, and others can learn more at the U.S. Department of Labor website, YouthRules!