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June 18, 1996

L&I encourages a safe summer for teens at work

TUMWATER - With school days turning to work days for thousands of Washington teens, the Department of Labor & Industries is urging employers to do everything possible to ensure a safe work environment for kids with summer jobs.

A recent study by L&I indicates that teens are three times more likely to be hurt on the job than adults.

"We realize there are many benefits to having a summer job, but it has to be safe," L&I Director Mark O. Brown said. "We urge parents to take an active role - to talk to their children about the work they're doing and the potential hazards."

Many hazardous duties are prohibited under state law for teens under 18, but even so, nearly 4,000 injury and illness claims from adolescents are filed with L&I each year, including such injuries as serious lacerations, burns, fractures, back injuries and amputations.

Those who employ teens are required to obtain a minor work permit from L&I and parent authorization for the job assignments and hours the teen will be assigned.

In addition, L&I urges employers to:

  • Understand and follow child labor laws and occupational safety and health standards as they apply to their business, including having a meaningful injury and illness prevention program.
  • Train supervisors and co-workers how to help adolescent workers recognize hazards and use safe work practices.
  • Stress safety at all times. Make sure teen workers are appropriately trained and supervised to prevent injuries and hazardous exposures.
  • Assess and eliminate hazards for adolescent workers.
  • Encourage teen workers to ask questions.

More information can be found at L&I's home page on the Internet - including a summary of the state's child labor laws and a link to the U.S. Department of Labor's "Work Safe This Summer (and Beyond)" brochure and Employer's Teen Safety Checklist. The address is http://www.lni.wa.gov. Information also is available by calling 360-902-5316.

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