The spring weather has finally arrived – and with it, thoughts of summertime. Beach days, Red Sox games, vacations. And let’s not forget, summer jobs for the Massachusetts youth out there.
I still remember some of my summer (and all year round) jobs as a teen: a locker room attendant, working around slippery floors and with cleaning chemicals; a movie theater usher, assigned to trash duty and heavy supply runs downstairs; a photo lab assistant breathing in photo processing chemicals all day. But oh, the skills I learned and the money I saved!
Every teen job has hazards that accompany its rewards, yet thinking back, I don’t recall getting safety-specific training in any of my jobs. And I don’t think I’m alone in that experience.
That’s part of why Governor Patrick declared May 2014 ‘Young Worker Safety Month.’ It’s a time for everyone – employers, parents and other adults – to think about how to best prepare Massachusetts young workers for fulfilling and safe summer job experiences.
DPH’s Teens at Work Project recently released its annual report to help do just that. Available online, the 2014 Surveillance Update gives a glimpse of work-related injuries to young people in the Commonwealth.
A special focus in this year’s report is injuries to young adult workers ages 18-24, also a popular group for summer jobs and a group at high risk for injuries on the job. It makes me think of my first job after high school, working late nights in a movie theater box office in the middle of New York City. Again, no safety training! And despite the times I felt nervous interacting with angry customers, as a young worker I wanted to make a good impression so I never felt comfortable asking for help. Another experience likely shared by many young people.
Don’t we owe it to young workers to provide them with a head start on safety? Let’s keep our teens safe while they’re on the job!
As spring lifts our spirits and school winds down, let’s not forget about summer jobs. Massachusetts young workers are counting on us for the support.
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