October 11, 2004
Do you have a job? Are
you looking for one?
"In 1993, 68 adolescents
under age 18 died from work-related injuries, and an estimated
64,000 required treatment in hospital emergency rooms. Adolescents
have a high risk for work-related
injury compared with adults.... Sixty-eight percent of occupationally
injured 14- to 16-year-olds experienced limitations in their normal
activities (including work, school, and play) for at least 1 day,
and 25% experienced limitation in their normal activities for
more than a week [Knight et al. 1995]. More than half of these
adolescents reported that they had not received any training in
how to prevent the injury they sustained. A supervisor was present
at the time of the injury in only about 20% of the cases."
Teenagers are new to
the work force, and therefore less likely to know what to expect
from a safe work environment. Ignorant employees make it easier
for employers who are trying to cut corners.
put youths at risk of serious injuries: young workers have been
killed on construction sites, during robberies while tending retail
establishments, and while working on farms; common nonfatal injuries
include sprains and strains, burns, cuts, and bruises..."
It is not just teens
who are targeted. An uneducated and eager (even desperate) workforce
is often easier to exploit.
"With limited education,
poor or nonexistent English skills, and illegal or temporary immigration
status, low-wage immigrant workers such as Calixtro perform the
most dangerous jobs, are unlikely to complain about hazards and
rarely understand their legal rights, according to a 2002 report
by UC Berkeley's Labor and Occupational Health Program. As a result,
the rate of fatalities among Latino workers is 25 percent higher
than the rate recorded for all workers, and foreign-born Latino
workers are more likely to die than Latinos born in this country,
according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.... Day laborers such
as Albarado and Cid are often undocumented, as was Calixtro, but
Flores says immigrant workers who are citizens or have the legal
right to work in this country are just as likely to be abused....
Flores often works from the offices of the Instituto Laboral de
la Raza in San Francisco's Mission District. The organization's
bilingual staff helps immigrant workers file worker's compensation
claims for injuries and back wages. Sarah Shaker, the organization's
executive director, estimates 'virtually none' of the 140 new
workers seeking help each month is aware of their rights. 'Even
if they are aware of their rights, they're scared,' said Michael
Garcia, a legal assistant at the Instituto. 'That's the only job
they have, and they'll put up with all the abuses.'"
So you are new to a job--or
looking for one. Maybe you think a friend or family member is
not being treated as he or she should? How do you know what is
unreasonable, and what is right?
"You have the right
No matter who you are, "OSHA's
mission is to assure the safety and health of America's workers
by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach,
and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual
improvement in workplace safety and health."
If you are (or know) someone who is
more comfortable communicating in Spanish....
Departamento del Trabajo de EE.UU
Administración de Seguridad y Salud Ocupacional
Or you are a teen working your first
"You found us! - the premier
site for teen worker safety and health information provided by
the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Our
mission is to help you stay healthy and safe while on the job.
Whether you work part-time, full-time, over the summer for a few
extra bucks, or the entire year, you have come to the right place
to get the scoop on how your job can affect you, now and in the
There are people out there working
to make your work environment safer and healthier.
Questions of the Week:
How can OSHA better reach teen and immigrant populations in order
to educate them about their rights and responsibilities on the
job? What other population groups within the workforce may be
slipping through the cracks, as well? How is the way that OSHA
reaches your peer group different than how they would reach others?
Where can teens go to get more information about keeping safe
on the job? Do teens typically seek out this information? Do adults?
Why or why not? What resources are available in your community?