VALLEY — With school out for summer, many teenagers and young adults will pick up a seasonal job to make money during their free time. While it can be mostly fun in the sun, new workers should take some safety precautions.
June is National Safety Month and Pinnacol Assurance, one of the state’s largest workers compensation insurers, states that more than 40 percent of their workplace injury claims come from new hires such as teenagers in the summer. According to the company, more than 240 Coloradans under 20 suffered contusions, lacerations, sprains, strains and punctures in 2017.
Additionally, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says that workers under 25 are twice as likely to end up in the emergency
So what can teens do to stay safe? Ellen Sarvay, a safety consultant with Pinnacol, told the “Valley Courier” that the best tactic is to speak up.
“Don’t just take the job and do whatever they tell you to do,” Sarvay said. “Really have an understanding of what’s going to happen when you start work. We really encourage our employers to let the teens know we don’t want you doing anything unsafe. If you don’t feel like you’ve been trained to do that task safely, then stop and ask those questions.”
Lifeguards, camp counselors and farmhands shouldn’t assume what’s expected of them. Sarvay says that more injuries occur when completing projects that don’t exactly line up in the job description. Additionally, the silence can snowball and create an unsafe workplace if multiple employees copy bad procedures.
“It can end up hurting you, too...You shouldn’t be expected to suck it up and do something that’s not safe, because that’s how you get hurt.”
Since a summer job is likely to be a person’s first job, learning those practices correctly can set up a lifetime of safe habits such as knowing the proper lifting technique.
“You’re not Superman. Even if you’re young and strong, you can still mess things up if you lift improperly. If you do it not safe the first time, it takes a long time to fix that habit.”
Another tip Sarvay suggests is to stay focused on the task at hand. Because new employees such as teenagers try hard to make a good first impression, they’ll hurry through tasks. Similarly, technology or other coworkers can easily distract them so they may rush to make up for lost time.
“They want to please and get the job done regardless of stopping to put on the gloves or put on the eye protection,” said Sarvay.
Lastly, teenagers should comply with the rules and regulations their employer has in places.
“If they tell you to wear a certain kind of footwear, that’s what you wear. If they tell you do to do things in a certain order, that’s how you do things. That can really help to reduce the likelihood of injury.”
If a workplace doesn’t have safety guidelines established, Sarvay recommends going online to research best practices.
“You can take that personal responsibility and let someone know when you don’t feel comfortable... If you’re concerned they’re not doing the right thing, you can go on our website and find safety rules for restaurant work or landscapers or other jobs.”
Caption: Hope Straley works at the Village Roaster in Lakewood. According to Pinnacol Assurance, more than 40 percent of workplace injury claims are new hires such as teenagers working summer jobs./Photo by HaveyPro Photos