May 23, 2017 / Mark Ames

A Summer of Workplace Safety for Teens

The beatific months of summer are a singularly happy time for many in the verdant lands of America. Although we enjoy the light of the season, it can blind us to a sinister reality that touches all of our lives – most especially some of our youngest. It is an unfortunate fact that all around the country teens will end up in emergency rooms as a result of workplace injuries.

Due to a confluence of factors unique to their stage of life, teens are twice as likely as adults to be injured at work. These incidents affect not only the injured but also their families and friends, and can leave heavy emotional and economic harm in their wake.

These injuries are preventable, and AIHA is taking action, from our grassroots to the highest levels of the association. For instance, AIHA’s President, Steven E. Lacey, PhD, CIH, CSP, recently traveled to Texas twice to testify at the State Legislature’s House Committee on Public Education and before the Senate Education Committee in support of House Bill 2010. This bill would encourage school districts to include workplace health and safety training in their curricula for students in grades 7–12. In his testimony, President Lacey notes that rather than spend their scarce funds to create new programs, schools may wish to use programs that already exist, are completely free, and require no special training to deliver, such as the Safety Matters program. Safety Matters was developed by subject matter experts from NIOSH and AIHA.

House Bill 2010 was passed by the Texas House of Representatives with overwhelmingly strong approval, and is supported by the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee. AIHA hopes this bodes well for the bill, as the Texas State Legislature is scheduled to adjourn at the end of May, and will not reconvene for quite a long time. At the time this post was published, the State Senate was in the process of scheduling this bill for further consideration.

Whether this bill is enacted or not, it prompts the following questions: What will you do to improve teen workplace safety training in the State where you live? Will you contact your State legislators and encourage them to introduce or otherwise support legislation promoting teen workplace safety awareness and training? Will you contact your middle schools and high schools, and encourage them to use the Safety Matters program?

Getting involved and making a difference is surprisingly easy and very impactful. Through your efforts you can help protect teens at work, making their summer days a little brighter.

Interesting in getting involved, but not sure of next steps? Visit the Safety Matters center and contact me at [email protected].

Mark Ames

Mark Ames is AIHA’s director of Government Relations.


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