We want to share this important information with today’s young workers (those under age 25), and tell you how important you are to the future of our countries!  We have gathered 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. 

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.  Pay close attention while being instructed. 

Job hazards that younger workers may experience 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: 

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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice.
  • Wear any personal protective equipment provided to do your job.
  • Follow the safety rules.
  • Never by-pass the safety features of equipment or take short-cuts.
  • Speak Up. Ask questions. (There’s never a dumb question when it comes to safety!) 

Why, then is this message so important to young people?  Because you are the new generation of workers, and we want you work safely.  Some of our workers are as young as 15; others are high school or college students working part-time, while many are already working full-time.  

Source: OSHA; Canadian Centre for Occupational Safety & Health