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Typical hazards faced by teenagers with summertime jobs

For many Minnesota teenagers, the summer could not come quick enough. It brings the opportunity for many to get a foot in the door by joining the state's workforce. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a significant percentage of the national workforce is younger than 24 years old, and if you are one of those, you -- and your parents -- may benefit from paying proper attention to the safety aspects of your chosen job.

Unfortunately, as a young and inexperienced worker, you will have to face many different types of occupational hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration statistics show an alarming number of workplace fatalities and injuries every year involve workers younger than the age of 18.

Typical causes of injuries to teen workers

According to OSHA, most injuries to younger workers result from a lack of training -- both equipment and safety training -- regardless of the industry they choose. Inadequate supervision is another cause for many injuries to inexperienced workers. Some of the common hazards per industry that typically cause injuries to teen workers include the following:

Retail and Warehousing

  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Slip-and-fall hazards
  • Dangerous equipment such as lift trucks and forklifts

Food Service and Hospitality

  • Burn hazards from hot cooking equipment
  • Slip-and-fall hazards
  • The threat of violent crime

Maintenance and Janitorial

  • Exposure to chemical hazards
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Bio-contamination hazards from handling discarded items

Office and Clerical work

  • Ergonomic injuries from repetitive work like data entry

Outdoor and Landscaping

  • Exposure to too much sun -- heat exhaustion
  • Pesticides and other hazardous chemicals exposure
  • Dangerous machinery including lawnmowers and wood chippers

Agriculture

  • Grain bin hazards
  • Hazardous chemicals
  • Dangerous machinery

The Minnesota Department of Labor has specific rules and regulations related to workers under the age of 18. These prescribe restrictions related to working with hazardous materials such as flammables and explosives, and dealing with hazardous operations such as logging, mining and more. Not only do authorities regulate the industries in which teenagers may work but also the hours that they may work.

Safety authorities encourage parents with teenagers entering the workforce to ask questions and make sure their children receive proper training before they use any equipment, as well as safety training to make sure they can recognize hazards and know how to handle dangerous situations. If your child suffers a workplace injury this summer, he or she will be entitled to pursue financial relief by filing a workers' compensation insurance claim for benefits. These typically cover all medical expenses and a portion of lost wages if he or she is temporarily disabled.

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