News | Communication Services, 360-902-5400 - PublicAffairs@Lni.wa.gov

L&I Director and Governor Inslee urge workplace safety for teens with summer jobs

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May 9, 2013

Tumwater – Gov. Jay Inslee has declared May as "Safe Jobs for Youth Month," just ahead of the summer season, when many teens apply for work.

While many teens will simply be grateful for a job, the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) wants to remind teens, parents and employers that the top priority should be providing a safe workplace for these young workers.

"Teens are eager to work and may not always question a workplace situation that doesn't seem right, so we must all do what we can to create safe workplaces for them," said L&I Director Joel Sacks.

Having a job can be a great experience for youth and is an important milestone in their development, but for some young workers, their first experience in the working world is not a good one. In general, youths are injured at a higher rate than adult workers.

In the last decade, many schools, businesses, labor unions, governmental agencies and others have worked to reduce injuries to young workers.

"The effort to provide teen-specific job safety information and advice needs to continue," said Sacks. "And L&I has resources to provide targeted help to teens, employers, parents and teachers."

L&I urges employers to make these their top safety priorities when they have teens in their workplace:  1) Make sure they are adequately trained.  2)  Carefully follow all laws that prohibit teens from operating dangerous equipment. 3) Provide extra supervision and lots of repetition about the job tasks, safety issues and restrictions that may apply, particularly when the teen is new to the job. Other tips can be found at www.TeenWorkers.Lni.wa.gov.

Employers who hire teens must obtain a minor work permit endorsement on their business license, as well as a parent authorization form for the job assignments and hours the teen will be working.

Here are some of the workplace rules covering teen workers:

  • In general, 14- and 15-year-olds may perform lighter tasks such as office work, cashiering and stocking shelves, bagging and carrying groceries, janitorial and grounds maintenance (without operating power mowers or cutters), and food service that does not involve cooking or baking duties.
  • Work assignments for 16- and 17-year-olds can be less restrictive. Their jobs may include such things as cooking, baking, landscaping, window washing (no more than 10 feet off the ground), maintenance and repair, and amusement-park work.
  • Fourteen- and 15-year-olds can work up to 40 hours a week while school is not in session; 16- and 17-year-olds can work up to 48 hours a week.
  • Generally, if safety equipment other than a hard hat, eye protection or gloves is required, then it's not an appropriate job for minors.
  • All minors are prohibited from working with powered equipment such as meat slicers and forklifts, explosives, pesticides and most chemicals.
  • In agricultural jobs, restricted job duties differ.

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For more information:

Mary Miller, Occupational Health Specialist, 360-902-6041
Dana Botka, Communications Consultant,  360-902-5408

Connect with L&I: Facebook (facebook.com/laborandindustries) and Twitter (twitter.com/lniwa)

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