Whether you are bringing teenage workers on board for the upcoming holiday season, or looking forward to adding young workers next summer, you have a special responsibility to provide a safe working environment for them.
The Department of Labor urges employers to take these steps to prepare young employees to work safely:
1. Double-check tasks. What may be obvious to an adult employee may not be so clear to a teen tackling a task for the first time. Train youths to work safely by giving clear instructions and telling them what safety precautions to take. Ask them to repeat your instructions and give them an opportunity to ask questions.
Show teens how to perform the task. Watch them as they do it, and correct any mistakes.
Once young workers know what to do and have demonstrated they can do it, check back later to ensure they are still doing the task correctly.
2. Show them how to use safety equipment. Although young workers are prohibited from performing certain tasks and using certain equipment, this does not eliminate every hazard. Some youths may still need to wear personal protective equipment such as safety shoes, hard hats, or gloves, depending on the nature of the work.
Be sure that the teens know when they need to wear protective gear, where to find it, how to use it and how to care for it.
In other cases, young workers may simply need to know about safety features of equipment or facilities.
3. Prepare teens for emergencies. Every worker needs to be ready to handle an emergency. You should prepare your young workers to escape a fire, handle potentially violent customers, deal with power outages or face any other risks that affect your business. Make sure they know whom to contact should an injury occur.