Most teens who get summer jobs don’t worry much about the potential for injury. However, they’re often in environments where hazards abound. Because they’re just working for the summer and/or part-time, they may not get the training and attention that other workers get.
Whether they’re lifeguarding, working for a landscaper, waiting tables at a restaurant or working as a camp counselor, they run the risk of workplace injuries. In many jobs, they face overexposure to the sun and heat or other environmental dangers.
Even if your teen, like many, thinks they’re impervious to injury and illness, their employer has an obligation to look out for their safety. Ohio’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) provides “tool kits” of online resources for young people, their parents, employers and even educators that emphasize the importance of safety and health on the job.
Teens need to know their health and safety rights in the workplace
The BWC notes that young people need to know how to make informed choices in the workplace. If they’re asked to do something they believe is unsafe or if they see unsafe conditions on the job, they have a right to speak up. The same is true if they’re not given the safety gear and/or adequate training they need. They should also know the procedure for reporting a workplace injury. If they aren’t told, they should ask – before something happens.
All of that is easier said than done for a 16-year-old who doesn’t want to risk losing their first job and the money they need to buy their own car or contribute to their college fund. However, as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) points out in its resources for young workers, teens (like all workers) have the right to speak up about workplace safety concerns “without retaliation or discrimination.”
If your teen has suffered a work-related injury or illness, they have the same rights to seek workers’ compensation as anyone else. If their employer is making that difficult, it may be helpful to seek legal guidance to help ensure your child gets the medical care and compensation they need and deserve.