Keeping Young Workers Safe: What are we missing?

Students and mentors at GOSH 2011

Perhaps you’ve heard it said that workers under the age of 25 are twice as likely to get hurt on-the-job than older workers. Throughout the U.S. and abroad, organizations such as NIOSH, OSHA and the Center for Young Worker Safety & Health lead efforts to reduce this risk.

Several years ago, groups in Oregon formed O[yes], the Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition. O[yes] is represented by many, including CROET, University of Oregon’s Labor Education Research Center, SAIF Corporation, Liberty Northwest, Oregon OSHA, Oregon Health Authority, PACE, ASSE, and the Greater Portland Construction Partnership. O[yes] priorities for 2012 include the annual PSA video contest for high school students, continued dissemination of the “Youth@Work: Talking Safety” training, packaging videos made by students in previous years’ contests into interactive curricula for Oregon classrooms, and connecting with employers who hire younger workers.

Students share safety stories at 2011 Women in Trades Career Fair.

The question remains: What more can we do?  How can we better address the vulnerability that young and new workers face at work? As we talk with young workers who have had concerns about workplace safety, some have told us that they are unlikely to speak up about such concerns unless their employer starts the conversation. We know that effective training is an important part of this answer, including training about workplace rights and responsibilities.

What have you found to be successful in addressing safety and health for new and young workers? We’d love to hear from you!


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