May 24, 2011
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Washington, DC – As the academic year is winding down for teens across the country, many are in search of that elusive summer job. The nation’s oldest consumer organization is warning teens this summer that doing a little homework might save teens from a painful injury down the road: every day in the United States, about 400 teens are hurt on the job; every two weeks, a teen is killed at work.
In a new report on teen worker safety released this week, the Five Most Dangerous Jobs for Teens 2011, the National Consumers League (NCL) is alerting teen job seekers to specific jobs that are the most dangerous for youth workers and provides practical advice for teens and their parents about staying safe on the job.
“Job competition may lead working teens who are desperate for work to seek jobs that are unsafe,” said Reid Maki, NCL’s Director for Social Responsibility and Coordinator of the Child Labor Coalition. Since 2000, the percentage of working teens has fallen 40 percent—in part because the federal government has cut back on funding for youth programs and in part because of the global economic recession.
“Job dangers are not always obvious,” said Maki. “When a teen takes a job with a landscaping crew, he doesn’t necessarily realize that the mechanical woodchipper he is working with could kill him or that the metal pole he lifts could hit an electrical wire and cause a deadly electrocution. Teens also get hurt on jobs that seem safe—like retail service positions—where lifting injuries and falls occur or workplace violence can be an issue. We want parents to talk to their kids about possible work dangers and empower them to ask their supervisors questions about their safety at work.”
NCL’s five most dangerous jobs for working youth in 2011 are:
- Agriculture: Harvesting Crops and Using Machinery
- Construction and Height Work
- Traveling Youth Sales Crews
- Outside Helper: Landscaping, Grounds Keeping and Lawn Service
Driver/Operator: Forklifts, Tractors, and ATV’s
Advocates say teen and parents taking caution about workplace dangers is more vital than ever, as some states are alarmingly trending towards a reversal of protections for workers and specifically working teens. A measure in Maine would allow teens to work longer hours each week and work till 11 p.m. on a school night instead of the current 10 p.m., increasing the risk of becoming a victim of workplace violence or of being injured in vehicular accidents. One survey of teen workers cited in the report found that more 10 percent of teenagers had been physically assaulted on the job, and another 10 percent said they had felt sexually harassed.
“This is especially critical now because some states are trying to roll back protections for working teens,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director and co-chair of the NCL-coordinated Child Labor Coalition. “Missouri’s and Maine’s legislature are both considering bills that would seriously weaken child labor protections. The Missouri state budget recently eliminated child labor investigators.”
“Each year, the National Consumers League issues our Five Most Dangerous Jobs for Teens report to remind teens and their parents to choose summer jobs wisely,” said Greenberg. “We want teens to have a safe and productive work experience. We want teens to consider the safety of each job and to ask employers for safety devices and safety training. Even the best intentioned employers and federal child labor laws do not always protect young workers from dangerous tasks.”
NCL compiles the Five Most Dangerous Jobs for Teens each year using statistics and reports from the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. NCL also monitors reports from state labor officials and news accounts of injuries and deaths.
About the National Consumers League
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.