Dawkins & Gowens Law Firm

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An Oklahoma Workers' Compensation and Personal Injury Litigation Group

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Keeping young workers safe may benefit companies in the end

Are you one of the thousands of teenagers who join the U.S. workforce every year? You might be one of many others in Oklahoma who wants to take on temporary summer jobs or seek permanent employment to get your career started. There are various safety factors employers must consider when they employ young workers.

Over time, young employees can become valuable assets for companies, and authorities suggest involving them in managing a company's safety protocol from the onset. Engaging young workers in these issues and empowering them to take proactive roles in the safety culture of the business may alleviate some typical risks taken by inexperienced workers. They can also play important roles in peer-to-peer training by setting good examples to other young employees who may sooner identify with other teens than workers who they may regard as old.

Aspects that may affect the safety of young workers

Regardless of the industry in which you choose to work, your age might be your biggest safety hazard. Here are some of the reasons:

  1. The cognitive and physical development of teenagers is not as advanced as that of adult workers.
  2. Protective equipment that accurately fits the bodies of teenagers may not be available -- putting them at an increased risk of injury.
  3. Less developed strength and motor control can jeopardize a young worker's ability to safely complete certain tasks.
  4. Immaturity may be a risk factor because some youngsters in the workplace see themselves as invincible and might want to prove this by disregarding existing safety regulations.
  5. Without experience, young workers are typically not yet equipped with the ability to identify and evaluate the seriousness of safety hazards.
  6. Hazards of different types of employment

Certain industries draw temporary workers by offering summer jobs such as in retail, food service and hospitality. Because of the high personnel turnover, proper training is seldom offered, and while workers may receive job training, safety training might be low on the list of priorities. A significant number of teenagers seek employment in other industries with high injury rates -- even for experienced workers. Safety training is even more vital in construction, mining, agriculture, transportation and other dangerous jobs.

Before you choose a job that gives you a foot in the door to building a career, it might be wise to gain some knowledge about the federal and state laws that govern child labor. In Oklahoma, the minimum age at which companies can employ teens is 16 years, and there are limits on the hours they may work and the tasks they may perform. Workers under the age of 18 may not do certain jobs, including the operation of power tools such as industrial meat slicers, circular saws and more.

If you were interested in working in dangerous environments where there are hazardous or radioactive substances, you would have to wait until you turn 18. The same applies to operating dangerous equipment such as forklifts or wrecking balls.

Where to turn for help in the aftermath of a workplace injury

With almost any job, especially those in dangerous work environments, there is always the possibility of suffering on-the-job injuries. Some injuries, such as broken bones, the loss of an arm or a leg or suffering a traumatic brain injury can have life-long consequences. In the unfortunate event of you suffering an injury in a workplace accident, help is available. An experienced workers' comp attorney can handle the administrative and legal aspects of your benefits claim to ensure you receive the full amount of compensation to which you are entitled.

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Dawkins & Gowens Law Firm
1601 NW Expressway, Suite 1420
Oklahoma City, OK 73118

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Phone: 405-848-4444
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