It’s back to school time and, for many Midland – Odessa parents, time to help the kids balance school and sports schedules. If you have kids who’ve reached age 16, don’t forget to add work and social schedules to that balance, too.
Sixteen is the magical age of freedom and nearly every one of them is anxious to earn a driver’s license, get a job and gain some independence from mom and dad. As a parent, you may be equally anxious for your teen to earn self-sufficiency. More likely, though, you’re just anxious about it all-around.
It’s understood that once you’ve teed up your teenager to pass that driver’s test, you’ll lecture often about driving safely and avoiding car accidents. But after you’ve coached your teenager into acing his job interview, are you prepared to talk about working safely and avoiding work accidents?
The idea of being physically injured in a work accident may never even cross her mind, or yours. But work accidents involving teens do happen. In 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 27 workers under the age of 18 were killed in work accidents in the United States. On average, about 150,000 workers under the age of 18 are injured on the job each year, and 50,000 of them have injuries serious enough to send them to an emergency room. When your teen is ready to start her first job, make sure she knows a little something about labor laws. By federal and Texas state law, she has all the same rights as any seasoned worker, and she should always feel safe and respected at her job.
In regards to large-scale emergencies, your teen needs to know:
- Every workplace should have a written plan in case of an emergency and every employee should be trained on that plan.
- Emergency procedures should be in place for weather emergencies, evacuations, fires, personal injuries and equipment malfunctions.
In regards to local, avoidable safety hazards, your teen should be cautious of:
- Slippery floors, hot surfaces and food items, and sharp tools in restaurants and kitchens.
- Criminal activity, bullying, and heavy lifting at retail establishments.
- Toxic chemicals, dangerous machinery and tripping hazards at any workplace.
Assure your child that his bosses are in charge and should have concern for the safety of all their employees and patrons at all times. Talk to your teen regularly about work and ask if he has any worries or concerns about safety, stress or work load. Also let him know if he witnesses a work accident, or if safety hazards go unrepaired at work, he cannot be fired for talking to a work accident lawyer about how to address the situation.
Visit the CDC’s Youth@Work: Talking Safety Texas website for resources on child labor laws and work safety.