The end of the school year is around the corner, and if you are one the thousands of Illinois teenagers who will take on your first summer job soon, you could probably benefit from learning about potential safety hazards and how to mitigate them. Employers are responsible for the safety and health of all workers by providing safe work environments that are free of known hazards. When it comes to workers who are inexperienced and new to the workplace, additional rules apply.
If you use the services of a staffing agency to find your summer job, your safety most likely becomes the responsibility of both the staffing agency and the host employer. Along with federal and state laws that restrict work hours and job types of workers who are younger than 18, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes safety standards with which to comply. Safety authorities note that this is the ideal opportunity to have first-line supervisors influence the work ethics and habits of young workers positively.
What are your employer's responsibilities?
As a young inexperienced worker, you can expect your employer to take the following steps in keeping you and your co-workers safe:
- Your boss must inform you about all the hazards of the job and teach you how to recognize and mitigate potential dangers.
- You must receive adequate training in a language that you understand. Along with teaching safe work practices, the training must include fire prevention and dealing with violent situations and accidents.
- Make sure you know the laws that restrict work hours and job types for young workers.
- Your employer can prevent equipment-related accidents by labeling machines that young workers may not operate and by making sure you are trained to operate those machines that you may operate.
- Your boss should encourage you to ask questions about anything that is unclear or tasks that you do not fully understand.
- It might be a good idea if your employer implements a buddy or mentoring system by which you work along with an experienced colleague until you know the ropes of the job.
- You must never work without the necessary personal protective equipment, and your employer must provide training in the proper use of each type of PPE.
Even if your employer complies with all safety standards to protect young workers, workplace accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, and he or she must inform you of the procedures to follow in such an event.
Help is available
The Illinois workers' compensation insurance program will have your back if you should suffer a work-related injury. It might be a good idea to secure the services of an experienced workers' compensation attorney who can navigate the benefits claims process on your behalf. The compensation typically covers medical bills and lost wages if the injuries caused a temporary disability.