Many teens in the United States work gainfully to some degree. It is very common for teenagers to obtain summer seasonal jobs like landscaping. While these jobs can do a lot to help young persons develop job skills and gain experience, there is also always the potential for tragedy.
For example, OSHA estimates that between 60 and 70 teens die each year from job-related injuries. In order to lower these numbers, it is vital for employers to understand child labor laws and for teens to take special precautions around machinery at the workplace.
What child labor laws apply?
It is particularly important for employers to understand labor laws surrounding youth and machinery. For instance, federal child labor laws prevent individuals under the age of 18 from operating hoisting equipment like forklifts, circular saws that are power-driven or gullotine shears and driving a motor vehicle.
For individuals 15 years and younger the rules are even more strict. For instance, 14- and 15-year-old workers may not operate weed cutters, lawn trimmers or lawnmowers.
What can teens do to stay safe?
Teenage workers should be especially vigilant regarding their safety. For instance, teens should not use any equipment that they have not been specifically trained to use. Wearing earplugs or earmuffs in high noise areas can prevent audial injuries. Teens should also make sure that they have appropriate protective clothing for the job at hand. This could require wearing eye goggles or boots.
Teenage workers should also be fully aware of their rights as workers. Even though these workers may be below the age of majority, many of the protections and rights are the same for minors as they are for legal adults.