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Teenagers, Work, and School

Randy DeVaul

Posted on March 30, 2019 11:27

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Kids often want to get hired to earn money and demonstrate some "maturity" in a workplace. There are, however, hazards that parents should watch for and help their kids recognize. The boss may not be your child's friend or overseer but an employer looking for work to get done. Parents need to discuss work-related issues with their kids and help guide them to be safe.

A job can be rewarding for a teen to gain hands-on experience, earn income, and learn new skills. However, sometimes what’s required for the job is beyond what a teen can handle. In 2005, 54 youth under age 18 died from work-related injuries. Approximately 160,000 youth sustain work-related injuries and illnesses each year. 

Young workers have high occupational injury rates which are in part explained by a high frequency of hazards in workplaces where they typically work (e.g. restaurant hazards associated with slippery floors and use of knives and cooking equipment). Inexperience and lack of safety training may also increase injury risks for young workers.  According to the US National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) under the Centers for Disease Control, the rate for emergency department-treated occupational injuries of young workers was approximately two times higher than among workers 25 years and older.

Kids that are just starting out will attempt almost anything to gain experience and the paycheck. In addition, they will want to demonstrate to their bosses that they can handle the tasks given to them and imply that they already know how to do those tasks. This is a critical mistake by both the worker and the employer. Even in the adult work world, thinking and saying that you know how to do something simply because you have ‘done it before’ simply means you most likely know how to do it incorrectly, or perform at some level of risk to your safety and health.

The type of jobs kids can qualify for while still in high school are not highly skilled positions, so often the assumption is that every new employee over the age of 15 knows how to do the job for which she is applying. Task training is minimal, oversight and careful supervision may be little or lacking entirely, and little direction is provided as to the requirements for meal and rest breaks, working ‘after hours’ and overtime work, just to name a few examples.

Take an active role in your child’s employment, and know the laws. There are reasons why laws restrict the working hours of students, so don’t allow your student to work more hours than the law allows.

Watch for signs of fatigue or stress as your child tries to balance work, school, home, and extracurricular activities.  Changes in grades, even behavior, can be indicators that your teen has too much on his or her plate and can’t handle all of it. If your child is full time in school and attempting some form of social life, the job really is what needs to go first or, at least, mandate fewer hours during the school week. Talk to your child regularly about what is going on at work, how the work is going, and pry a little into how the work is actually being done to ensure your child is safe.

Be the parent – keep your child safe at work and at home.

Randy DeVaul

Posted on March 30, 2019 11:27

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Source: CBS 11
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