Tips for Employers Hiring Young Workers

Friday, June 3, 2011 - 3:45pm

BATON ROUGE, La. (June 3, 2011) — With the start of summer, more than 4 million young workers nationwide will be looking for employment. If you are hiring any young persons this summer, you will have a great responsibility to protect their safety and health.

Statistics show that a lack of work experience is one of the leading causes of injuries to young workers. In fact, young workers are injured twice as often as experienced employees. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2009 data, a total of 24,480 young workers, 14 to 19 years old, were injured on the job nationwide. A more frightening statistic reveals that 82 deaths occurred nationwide in 2009 for the same group.

These incidents were primarily caused by a lack of work experience, limited knowledge of safe work practices, a lack of formal training, and inadequate supervision.

What can employers do to keep young workers safe? Here are action steps you should consider implementing:

Assess the workplace for hazards, and take steps to reduce or eliminate these hazards.
All young workers should receive training in hazard recognition and safe work practices.
Supervisors should monitor young workers’ job performance and provide feedback to encourage safe behaviors and discourage unsafe behaviors.
Assign a mentor who has the ability to teach safe work behaviors to a younger, less experienced person.
Involve young workers in all aspects of workplace safety. Seek input from the young worker in the areas of safe work practices and hazard recognition. This will build a sense of ownership for the process.
Develop a fully implemented Injury and Illness Prevention safety program for the operation. The program should clearly outline the direction and procedures to perform safe production in the workplace.
Hold short safety meetings to reinforce safe work practices and communicate changes in the work process.
Stress to all young persons to report all incidents to a supervisor immediately. Young people may not report an incident for fear of disciplinary action.
Establish a Drug-Free Workplace program to include preemployment, random, and post-accident drug testing for all employees.
Hiring young workers provides you the opportunity to teach safe work behaviors, which can last the young person a lifetime.

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