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Massachusetts teens average over 700 work-related emergency room visits each year.  Nationally, young workers sustain non-fatal injuries at almost twice the rate of older workers per hour, which can be partially explained because young workers are often provided insufficient health and safety training. 

One program in Massachusetts aimed at curbing this trend is the Safe Jobs for Youth Poster Contest.  The contest engages young people by encouraging them to learn about workplace safety in order to incorporate it into a poster.  The winning posters then serve to raise awareness of other young workers about workplace safety in a way that is meaningful to them.  This year 120 teens participated in the contest, and 36 youth served as judges.

Liz Otero16-year-old Liz Otero, (pictured left), of Worcester won first place, taking home a cash prize of $500.  Second place went to Nicholas Horvath of Norfolk and third place to Evelyne Lourie of Newburyport, who took home prizes of $300 and $100 respectively. Otero’s work will be displayed by the MBTA and Worcester Regional Transit Authority.

“I am really excited about winning the poster contest,” said Otero. “As a student in a technical high school, safety is our number one priority. Safety comes first.”

The contest was sponsored by The Massachusetts Youth Employment Safety (YES) Team comprised of Massachusetts Departments of Public Health, Education, Labor Standards, and Industrial Accidents, the Office of the Attorney General, Mass COSH, Commonwealth Corporation, and the U.S. Department of Labor.

“I want to thank all the teenagers who participated in this annual contest,” said Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rachel Kaprielian. “While our child labor laws help protect teens from dangerous work, health and safety education is critically important in preventing working teens from being injured. Working together with community, labor and government partners— this kind of outreach will help young people stay safe as they enter the workforce.”

The YES Team is an interagency working group that brings together state, federal, and non-profit agencies to coordinate efforts to protect and promote the health and safety of young workers in Massachusetts. Since 2003, the YES Team has provided a mechanism through which multiple agencies with overlapping goals related to youth employment can join forces to support safer jobs for teens. To learn more about the YES Team or workplace safety click here.

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Director of the Department of Labor Standards

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