July 10, 2007
Augusta- As peak summer tourism season starts in Maine, many young workers are entering into the workforce to earn some extra money during summer vacation. Maine Labor Commissioner, Laura Fortman is reminding employers to take precautions to keep teens safe on the job.
Although workers under the age of 18 are prohibited from holding many of the most dangerous jobs in the economy, teens are still injured at higher rates than adult workers. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, nearly 100,000 workers between the ages of 15 and 17 visit emergency rooms each year because of injuries caused by work, and over 70 are killed annually because of work injuries. Each year in Maine, over 100 workers under 18 have an injury that results in time away from work. Maine injury rates are lower than the national average due in part to stronger child labor protections and more consistent enforcement.
Young workers are most likely to sustain injuries as the result of unsafe equipment, stressful conditions, inadequate safety training, inadequate supervision, or dangerous work that is illegal or inappropriate for youth.
Employers can make their workplaces safer for young workers by identifying hazards and reviewing past injuries. Simple redesign of work areas, tasks, procedures or equipment can often eliminate hazards without expensive changes.
All new workers should be trained in the safe use of equipment, lifting techniques, what to do in an emergency, how to use protective equipment, and safe use of chemical products that they may use in their work. Refresher trainings should be held periodically to update current employees on safety procedures.
Supervisors should set good examples by following safety rules and should be observant of new employees to see that they are doing tasks as trained. Employers should create an atmosphere that encourages teen workers to speak up when there is a problem or instructions are unclear.
Employers should also take note of laws governing the employment of workers under the age of 18. Child labor laws require work permits for teen workers under the age of 16 and restrict the type of work and the working hours of all teens under the age of 18. Some of the jobs Maine teens under 18 years old cannot do include operating most mechanical equipment, driving for work, and working alone in a cash-based business.
For a free copy of the A Guide to Maine Laws Governing the Employment of Minors or for more information on work hours for teens, work permits, or prohibited occupations, call the Maine Department of Labor at 623-7900 (TTY: 1-800-794-1110) or visit the SafetyWorks! website at www.safetyworksmaine.org.
14 and 15 Year Olds (must have work permit)
16 & 17 Year Olds (enrolled in school, inc. home-school)