Those high school and college kids your company has added to the payroll for the summer are somebody’s children. Take steps to protect them just as you’d protect permanent employees.
No matter how long they’ll be employed, every person you hire is entitled to a safe and healthful work environment. Take the time to train them properly and to train your supervisors to look out for their well-being.
Young people can be an asset to your workforce. However, this may be their first job, or the first time they’ve operated equipment. Child labor laws restrict the types of jobs, hours worked, and equipment used by youth. Many young workers are also temporary employees. Host employers must treat them as they treat existing workers, including providing required training. According to OSHA, temporary staffing agencies and host employers share control over the employees, and are jointly responsible for temporary employees’ safety and health.
Make sure you’re aware of your responsibilities when it comes to protecting young workers.
- Understand and comply with relevant federal and state child labor laws that address work hours and disallowed hazardous tasks.
- Make sure young people are trained to recognize hazards and are competent in safe work practices. Training must be in a language and vocabulary workers understand. Make sure to cover prevention of fires, accidents, and violent situations.
- Implement a mentor or buddy system. Have an experienced worker answer questions and help the new hire learn the job and how to perform it safely.
- Encourage young workers to ask questions about tasks or procedures that are unclear or that they don’t understand. Make sure they know whom to ask.
- Remember that young workers are not just “little adults.” Be mindful of the unique aspects of communicating with a younger population.
- Make sure any equipment they operate is legal and safe.
- Tell young employees what to do if they get hurt on the job.
Summer hires can contribute to your company’s productivity and profitability while they earn needed funds and valuable job experience. Make sure these benefits don’t come at the expense of their safety and health. Learn more at https://www.osha.gov/youngworkers, where OSHA offers resources for young workers, their employers, and their parents.