According to OSHA, a young worker gets injured on the job every nine minutes and in 2013 alone, 335 workers under the age of 25 died on the job. Don’t let your workplace be part of these alarming statistics. Take the first steps to keeping workers of all ages safe, including your younger team members! To start, here are five simple ways to protect young workers in the workplace.
#1 Keep Up with Age-Appropriate Labor Laws
Just like any other worker, young adults have the right to a safe workplace. However, unlike a typical adult worker, young workers under the age of 18 have special labor laws protecting them that businesses must comply with.
If you are employing anyone under the age of 18, this employment must adhere with child labor laws, which vary according to federal and state guidelines. Most of these child labor laws are related to the safety of young workers including the limitation of working hours and the exclusion of certain job types.
#2 Make Up for Lack of Experience
Workers under the age of 25 are more likely to be starting their first job with you. Therefore, you have the added responsibility of keeping them safe in a new environment—especially when they don’t have the same level of safety experience as compared to your older workers.
By providing young workers with thorough and ongoing safety training programs, you are strengthening their foundation as safe and productive workers. Additionally, you must provide these workers with legal and safe equipment at work, just as you would for all of your employees.
#3 Implement a Mentor System
Hiring young people gives your older employees the perfect opportunity to mentor the new employees and train them the right way, the first time.
A successful mentorship program or buddy system involves pairing your young workers with a mentor who is either a seasoned employee or someone in upper-level management. This not only increases the young person’s chances of learning in the workplace, but it also works to help keep novice workers safe while on the job.
#4 Communicate Frequently
It’s important to keep tabs on your young workers and explain the business’ safety rules and concepts more frequently. In addition to frequent communication, you will also want to ensure the language you use caters to and is understood by a younger audience. Without proper guidance and communication, teen workers are more likely to make impulsive decisions.
While impulsive decisions can always be dangerous, young employees have less experience recognizing and addressing hazards, which increases the likelihood that those impulsive decisions will result in disaster.
#5 Provide Safety Training
Workplace safety training is essential in any age group, but if you have a group of younger employees, consider incorporating different learning materials—PowerPoint presentations, videos, online games, handouts, and posters—to make the training more stimulating. Visit OSHAcampus.com for more details about workplace safety training options like the OSHA 10-hour program.