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Summer jobs pose risks for teen workers

It's summer, and for many Massachusetts teens, that means an opportunity to earn some extra cash. Summer jobs are more than just resume-builders. They instill responsibility and financial independence. They're also a better use of teens' time than playing videogames or watching TV all summer.

However, one thing can quickly derail your teen's summer job experience, and perhaps even set them back with lasting health consequences: a work-related injury.

The truth about teen injury rates

Occupational injuries among teens are more common than you might think. In 2015 alone, more than 400 young adult workers were killed on the job, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Overall, teens are twice as likely to get injured on the job as older workers.

Why the higher risk?

Inexperience may be a factor. Teens tend to work in industries with higher injury rates such as food service. Irresponsible employers may also play a role by neglecting to provide adequate training or letting safety violations slide.

How injuries happen

Many job-related injuries among teens involve hazards such as:

  • Hot ovens and grills
  • Dangerous equipment
  • Slippery floors
  • Tripping hazards
  • Heavy lifting
  • Repetitive motions

The most common types of injuries include:

  • Cuts and other open wounds
  • Sprains and strains (including back injuries)
  • Falls (whether from heights, trips or slips)
  • Burns

Some of these injuries - such as sprains and strains - can cause long-term problems, interfering with teens' sports ambitions and overall health.

How to help keep your teen safe

As a parent, you can help keep your teen safe on the job. Don't let them accept under-the-table employment arrangements. Make sure their job is legitimate and their employer reputable. Follow up to ensure that they receive on-the-job safety training.

Also, familiarize yourself with the rights of teen workers as well as child labor laws. This knowledge is critical for ensuring that your teen doesn't get taken advantage of - or exposed to unnecessary dangers. For example, teens under age 18 generally aren't permitted to drive motor vehicles for hire, except in limited circumstances. They also aren't allowed to work in certain high-risk conditions.

By taking these few simple steps, you can help make your teen's summer employment experience a positive one.

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