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Teens’ Jobs Can Be Dangerous - Even Deadly

7/13/2001:   Parents of teens are usually delighted when their children finally get a part-time or summer job. In many youth programs, job placement is a major goal for participants in their late teens. In fact, jobs are often viewed as a positive way of making sure teens are busy, occupied, and learning new skills as well as earning money on their own. But are youthful, inexperienced workers, facing unacceptable risks on the job?

The National Consumers League (NCL) advises that, before taking any job, teens and their parents or caregivers should discuss the type of work, the training provided, the hours spent on the job, and the level of supervision.

Every year, 200,000 young workers who are under age 18 are injured on the job in the United States. In 1999, 72 employees under age 18 died from work-related injuries. Many teens work in unsafe conditions, do not receive the training needed to stay safe on the job, or are paid "under the table" by employers who do not follow child labor laws about working hours, prohibited occupations, and use of machinery.

To alert teens and their parents to particularly dangerous jobs - and because no amount of money is worth an injury or death - NCL has listed the five most dangerous types of jobs teens should avoid:

  • Delivery and other driving, including repairing, operating, or riding on forklifts and other motorized equipment. Federal law prohibits minors under age 18 from operating or being a helper on these machines.


  • Working alone in cash-based businesses, especially late at night. These businesses are highly vulnerable to crime; and violence is the cause of nearly 70% of all deaths in the retail industry.


  • Traveling youth crews. Children as young as 10 are recruited to sell consumer items on the streets. In addition to facing numerous safety concerns - including increased risk of motor vehicle injuries, abuse, and pedestrian injury - these children often are not adequately compensated for their work.


  • Cooking, primarily the exposure to hot oil and grease, hot water and steam, and hot cooking surfaces. According to a 1999 study by the National Institute on Occupational Safety and Health, burns associated with the cooking process are a leading type of injuries among the 44,800 occupational injuries to teen workers in the restaurant industry. Youth under age 18 are not legally permitted to operate, clean, or repair commercial ovens, meat grinders, or slicing machines.


  • Construction and other work at heights. Federal law prohibits construction work by youth under age 16. Roofing, excavation, and demolition are prohibited for those under age 18. Nevertheless, construction ranks third in the number of occupational fatalities among youth.

For detailed information on this topic or on NCL, visit http://www.nclnet.org/childpr626.html. The NCL, founded in 1899, promotes the welfare of those consumers, wage earners, and income recipients least able to protect themselves and assists them in developing their own capabilities to the extent possible.

The Child Welfare League of America is a member of the Child Labor Coalition, which researches and publishes information on child labor and dangers to children.




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