If your high school or college student is one of the millions of young people who will be spending a considerable portion of their summer working, you should know that their chances of suffering an injury on the job might be higher than those of adult, full-time employees they may be working alongside.
In part, that's because of inadequate supervision and safety training, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Sometimes, this supervision and training are lacking even when young workers are operating equipment that can be dangerous.
One child labor specialist says, "It's been long known that young workers have a higher rate of getting hurt on the job than older adults." Some of the most common injuries include sprains, strains and cuts. However, too often, their injuries are fatal.
If your teen is working in a store -- particularly a grocery store -- the most common hazards include slippery floors, machinery and equipment. If they're doing janitorial work, they can be exposed to hazardous chemicals and contaminated items thrown in the trash. Injuries suffered due to heavy lifting occur in both of these types of workplaces.
Here in Illinois, kids often begin helping with farm chores at an early age. This can expose them to injuries from machinery, grain bins and chemicals, including pesticides. Any kind of outdoor work can be dangerous if they're working in the hot sun for hours without proper precautions and protection.
If your child is working at a restaurant or fast food establishment, their greatest risks of injury come from slippery floors, cooking equipment and violent crime. Even if your child has a seemingly safe office job this summer, they can suffer the same ergonomic risks and repetitive motion injuries as older workers do.
While your teen likely doesn't want you asking their boss what kind of training and supervision they're giving your child to help ensure their safety, talk to your child about these things. Make sure that they feel safe in their workplace and that they believe their employer cares about their well-being. That means not letting them work long hours that exceed the legal limit.
If your child suffers a work-related injury or illness that you believe could have been prevented, find out what legal options you have to pursue justice and compensation.