It's that time of year again: teens are pounding the pavement looking for summer work. Having a job can be an important part of youth development, but the worst work - the ones on this year's Five Most Dangerous Teen Jobs - should be avoided in some cases or accepted with caution in others..
A few days before Thanksgiving in a small Virginia town called Poquoson, Frank Gornik, 14, was removing storm debris for his uncle’s company. The boy, a freshman in high school, fed branches into a wood chipper. He used a shovel to help force the branches and that shovel was grabbed by the machine and—in an instant—swallowed the boy and killed him.
When a young salesperson comes knocking at your door, how can you tell whether it's a legitimate sales company rep or a teenager who's become involved in a dangerous traveling sales crew? The following tips can help you evaluate the situation, while keeping you - and the young worker - safe.
Considering a job in door-to-door sales? Teens looking for potential work may need help distinguishing legitimate door-to-door sales opportunities from dangerous traveling sales crews.
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics fatality records, construction and roofing are two of the ten most dangerous jobs in America. In 2007, an estimated 372,000 workers of all ages were injured in construction accidents and construction led other industries in the number of deaths among all workers: 1,178. A construction worker is nearly three times as likely to die from a work accident as the average American worker.
With summer around the corner, many teens are beginning the process of looking for a summer job. In 2007—the last year for which there are complete records—an estimated 2.6 million adolescents aged 16 to 17 years worked in the U.S. That doesn’t include the 400,000 children of migrant and seasonal farmworkers who help put food on our tables at ages below 16 because of loopholes in our child labor laws.
Know the Legal Limits
To protect young workers like you, state and federal laws limit the hours you can work and the kinds of work you can do. For state and federal child labor laws, visit Youth Rules.
Play it Safe
Always follow safety training. Working safely and carefully may slow you down, but ignoring safe work procedures is a fast track to injury. There are hazards in every workplace — recognizing and dealing with them correctly may save your life.
Forklifts, tractors, and all-terrain vehicles pose dangers for many young workers. Several youth tractor accidents have been detailed in our section on agricultural fatalities and injuries. Some recent forklift and vehicle accidents involving youth:
Landscaping and yard work is a frequent entry point into the job market for teenagers. However, the sharp implements and machinery used to do the work present dangers for teens. Often young workers are left unsupervised for long periods of time. The job also requires a great deal of time spent driving in vehicles which, as we have noted, is a dangerous work-related activity.
You have the right to:
- a safe workplace
- refuse dangerous work and to file a complaint if your job is unsafe
- safety clothing, equipment, and training
- payment for your work
- medical care if you get injured or sick because of your job
- work without racial or sexual harassment