We want to share this important information with today’s young workers (those under age 25), to tell you how important you are to the future of your country! We have compiled information from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Canadian Centre for Occupational Safety and Health. The DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA’s) main role is to protect workers from workplace hazards that can cause a serious illness or injury, as well as Canada’s OSH. Employers have the responsibility to follow established safety and health laws and common sense safety practices that prevent tragedy. Why, then is this message so important to young people? Because you are the new generation of workers, and we want you to work safely. Some of our workers are as young as 15; others are high school students, or college students working part-time, while others are already working full-time.
When you begin a new job, talk it over with your parents or someone you trust, especially if you feel you are being asked to do tasks that are unsafe. Your parents need to know of any hazards associated with your job. Canadian experts believe, as well as those in the U.S., that many young persons are put into the job without the proper training. You can’t just walk onto the job and be expected to know exactly what to do without being taught the fundamentals. You have the right to a safe workplace. Although new jobs may be intimidating, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and don’t rush just to impress your new boss. You may be running a piece of equipment that an older worker has run for decades; hopefully, he will be your mentor and teach you the safe way to run it.
There are many resources that can help you understand the particulars of your job. Some of the ways young workers may be injured are lifting objects, working at elevations, working with hot substances and objects, working with knives, operating mobile equipment or motor vehicles, working with food slicers, and /or working near running equipment and machinery. Whether you are working in a food service industry, construction, warehouse, grocery store, or on a drilling rig, there are going to be hazards that you must be aware of and respect.
In a letter from Dr. David Michaels, the Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), this sums it up, so please pay attention: (I added a few words in italics that I think are important, too.
YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO A SAFE JOB!
YOUR RIGHTS ON THE JOB
Your employer must provide a workplace free of serious hazards. Your employer must also:
- Tell you the hazards and dangers of your job;
- Inform you about the OSHA standards that apply to your workplace (in a language you understand);
- Provide job safety training regarding workplace hazards and the required safety gear; (personal protective equipment)(PPE). Always wear whatever PPE (e.g., gloves, safety glasses, hardhat, etc) as required; and understand how to care for it.
- Tell you who to talk to if you have a health or safety question, and
- Inform you what to do and who to talk to if you get hurt on the job.
To help assure a safe workplace, OSHA provides you with rights to:
- Receive information and training about hazards, methods to avoid harm, and OSHA standards that apply in a language that you understand;
- Exercise your workplace safety rights without retaliation and discrimination; and
- Ask OSHA to inspect your workplace.
WAYS TO STAY SAFE ON THE JOB
To help protect yourself, you can:
- Report unsafe conditions to your supervisor, parent, teacher or other adult that can help.
- Wear any personal protective equipment provided to do your job.
- Follow the safety rules. Always think and act with safety in mind.
- Never by-pass the safety features of equipment or take short-cuts.
- Speak Up. Ask questions. Ask for help.
Someday you will be the leaders of industry. Learn all you can and do your best to be a safe worker by encouraging others to do the same.
Source: OSHA; Canadian Centre for Occupational Safety & Health