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A Summer to Remember

By Mark Ames

It’s hard to believe—and yet I do. I suppose it’s because I’ve seen it firsthand myself. According to OSHA, every minute a young worker (age 15–25) is injured on the job, and every day a young worker loses their life as a result of a workplace incident. While shocking, sometimes statistics don’t tell the full story and are hard to relate to. To really understand, it helps to look at the people who are impacted.

As a young lobbyist in Washington, DC in my early 20s, I had to work two jobs to make ends meet. One of the jobs was at an office supply store, where I worked retail. For months things went smoothly, and then, without warning, an accident happened. I was helping a customer find some merchandise when I heard a loud bang. One of my coworkers, a young man in his late teens, had fallen from near the top step of a ladder while he was trying to retrieve a large box from overstock in a closet near the front of the building where some of the more expensive items were held. The young man struck the floor, apparently hitting his head. According to some of my coworkers, he went into convulsions. An ambulance was called, he was taken away, and I never learned what became of him. I hope with all my heart that he is OK.

Even though I didn’t witness the full chain of events, they made a deep impression on me that has stayed with me all these years. Undoubtedly, it impacted my coworkers as well. The full circle of people who are affected by workplace injuries and illnesses expands far beyond the primary person or people involved in an incident and can be quite large.

It is with these things in mind that, on the cusp of the summer jobs season, AIHA is proud to join with OSHA and so many others in reemphasizing the importance of workplace health and safety for young workers. In this specific campaign, we are taking the conversation to social media, where so many of our youth and societal influencers gather. The hashtag is smart and straightforward: #MySafeSummerJob. AIHA is using this hashtag to spotlight the importance of workplace health and safety to current and potential young workers, employers, educators, parents, policymakers, and others. We invite you to join us on Twitter by using this hashtag to share why you think young worker health and safety is important and to visit for more information.

Mark Ames is AIHA’s director of Government Relations.


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