FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Mónica Novoa, NYCOSH
GOVERNOR CUOMO PROCLAIMS JUNE “TEEN WORKER SAFETY MONTH”
NYCOSH Teen Trainers Kick Off Summer With Safety Message for Young Workers
New York, NY— As teens across New York State put down their books and head off to their summer jobs, one important message that teens need to hear is simple: gaining work experience is a wonderful thing, but young workers are injured too often on the job. Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared June “Teen Worker Safety Month” in New York State. The Proclamation states, “as many teens will be employed in summer jobs, and may not be aware of the need for work permits, or potential hazards on their jobs, or the laws designed to protect youth in the workplace.” The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), which, along with the New York State Young Worker Safety and Health Project, requested the designation put forward by Governor Cuomo, is taking steps to better educate teens and others about the importance of teen safety – and to support teen-led advocacy on safety.
Vaughnessa Alexander,17, one of NYCOSH’s Teen Peer Leaders, will be helping conduct training for several hundred teens this summer. The teens hope to meet with several legislators on the heels of the recently declared “Teen Worker Safety Month.” Ms. Alexander said, “We are happy about the proclamation – now we want to urge legislators to work with us to better educate young people, employers, our parents, our teachers, and others about teen safety. We are injured to the job at twice the rate of adult workers, and we need to join forces to address this problem. Look out for us on social media this summer with the hashtag #ProtectTeenWorkers.”
NYCOSH teen leaders have conducted train-the-trainer sessions for 12 other teens, committed to providing training to their peers during the summer months. The sessions will focus on how to identify hazards on the job; what employers must do to protect workers from injury and illnesses; rights on the job, including child labor law protections, and how they can speak up to their employer if they don’t know how to do something, or they feel the job is unsafe. There will also be a special focus on how to prevent workplace violence, a major concern for young workers who often work with money, and may be working alone at late hours.
Unsafe working conditions, lack of experience, and fear of speaking up have all been cited as reasons for the higher rate of injuries among youth.
- Young workers are injured at twice the rate of adult workers.
- In 2013, more than 20,000 teens in the United States between ages 14-19 lost days at work due to their injury or illness.
- In 2013 86 teenagers died at work.
From their own learning experience during the past months, NYCOSH’s teen trainers have several ideas on how more teens can be educated on this important topic, and will make their voices heard. Visits are planned to a few legislators, and the teens hope to convince them that all young people should learn something about workplace safety while they are still in school, to better prepare themselves for work.
Another participant in NYCOSH’s program, Carlos Garcia, 17, said, “Teens have the right to know what their rights are when they working on the job so no one takes advantage of us. When I worked in the delivery truck, heavy objects needed to be lifted all the time, and since I am young, I felt obligated to lift anything without complaining, in order to make a good impression. The way I handled these issues was to just keep doing what I had to do because I didn’t know any better. I will be working this summer with other NYCOSH trainers to educate other teens about hazards that many teens face on the job, and what the employer should do to make their jobs safer. Workplace safety is a human right.”