Protecting and Educating
California's Young Workers

Report and Recommendations of the
California Study Group on
Young Workers' Health and Safety

Labor Occupational Health Program
Center for Occupational and Environmental Health
School of Public Health
University of California, Berkeley
prepared for the
Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation

March, 1998

INTRODUCTION

Background

Every year 70 adolescents die from work injuries in the U.S. Approximately 200,000 are injured—70,000 severely enough to require treatment in hospital emergency rooms. Most of these injuries are preventable.

In September, 1996, the California Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation funded U.C. Berkeley's Labor Occupational Health Program (LOHP) to convene and staff a statewide Study Group on Young Workers' Health and Safety, to identify strategies to address this issue in California.

The Study Group brings together 30 representatives from key agencies and organizations that are involved with California youth employment and education issues, or that can otherwise play a role in educating and protecting young workers. Members include representatives from government agencies, parent organizations, teacher organizations, employer groups, and others. Organizations are listed below.

• California Apprenticeship Council

• California Association of Work Experience Educators

• California Chamber of Commerce

• California Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation

• California Department of Education

• California Department of Health Services, Occupational Health Branch

• California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Apprenticeship Standards

• California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement

• California Employment Development Department

• California Federation of Teachers

• California Parent Teacher Association

• California Teachers Association

• Cal/OSHA

• Industry Education Council of California

• Labor Occupational Health Program, UC Berkeley

• Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program, UCLA

• State Compensation Insurance Fund

• U.S. Department of Labor

• Western Job Training Partnership Association

 

Purpose of the Study Group

The purpose of the Study Group is to identify potential strategies to:

 

How Recommendations Were Developed

In addition to two initial planning meetings with government agency representatives, the full Study Group held four all-day meetings in 1997. Participants began to identify the scope of the problem in California, data gaps that need to be filled, and existing prevention efforts. The group also discussed intervention opportunities and new approaches, including improved coordination of efforts among governmental and private agencies.

In the first meeting, "Building a Common Knowledge Base," eight speakers presented basic background information to 25 Study Group members on the scope of the problem of injury and illness among young workers in California, including where they work, where they are injured, psychosocial and physical development issues to be considered, and existing enforcement and educational efforts in the state.

The three following meetings, each attended by 16 to 20 Study Group members, focused on developing recommendations for key strategies to better protect young workers. The meetings considered strategies within each of the "Four E's" of injury prevention: Education, Enforcement, Engineering controls, and Economic and other incentive programs.

The recommendations developed by the Study Group are presented in this report in the following categories:

1. School-Based Strategies

2. Strengthening the Role of Work Permits

3. Workplace Initiatives

4. Strategies for Enforcement Agencies

5. Raising Public Awareness

6. Further Research

These recommendations represent the general consensus of the Study Group. They do not yet include proposals for funding sources (which will be necessary to implement most, if not all, of the recommended initiatives). Also, most recommendations at this stage do not identify which agency or organization should carry them out. Some of the recommendations will probably be adopted independently by organizations within or outside the Study Group.

During 1998, the Study Group will further explore some of the more promising recommendations. Work will begin on developing possible implementation plans in more detail, including identification of funding sources.

 

1998 Work Plan

After previous funding from September, 1996 to December, 1997, the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation has now funded the Study Group for an additional year (1998) to accomplish the following:

  1. Identify three or four key intervention strategies (based on 1997 recommendations) that hold promise but require further study and development. Set up roundtables of relevant agencies and constituency representatives to discuss and develop more detailed recommendations in these areas. Some of the possible areas of interest identified to date are:
  1. Develop an expanded resource list of agencies, organizations, and available materials, detailing all activities related to health and safety education and/or protection of young workers in California.
  2. Propose new methods for filling data gaps regarding the scope and characteristics of teen employment in California, as well as injury and illness rates by age, industry, and type of work.

 

 

Other Activities of Study Group Members

In addition to developing recommendations, several Study Group members have already found ways to use the information shared at meetings, and to begin working with others in the Study Group on intervention projects. For example:

 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

 

Protecting and Educating California's Young Workers

As explained in the Introduction, these recommendations represent the general consensus of the California Study Group on Young Workers' Health and Safety. They are presented here to share the results of Study Group discussions to date, and do not yet include full implementation or funding plans. Implementation of many of these recommendations may be initiated by organizations within or outside the Study Group.

The Study Group acknowledges that all of the agencies that should be involved in the implementation of these recommendations have limited resources. The critical work to follow will be to develop full implementation plans for the most promising recommendations. Such plans must include the development of partnerships and funding mechanisms that will make it possible to achieve the important objectives set out here.

 

1. School-Based Strategies

California's schools have very limited resources, and the Study Group in no way intends to detract from schools' most essential mandate to provide basic quality education to youth. A recurring concern during the Study Group's discussions was the importance of identifying resources and partnerships that can assist the schools in meeting this mandate, while at the same time helping to better prepare youth for a safe, productive, and satisfying work life.

 

Recommendation #1. Integrate information on workplace health and safety and child labor laws into work-related programs in the schools.

Objective. To ensure that all students who participate in work-related school programs understand the importance of health and safety, can identify potential hazards, and know how to get help with health and safety and child labor law issues.

Description. Targets would be various established vocational programs, including Regional Occupational Centers and Programs (ROCP), Partnership Academies, Tech Prep programs, and Work Experience programs. Vocational education programs are already required to provide at least some training on workplace health and safety issues related to the trades they teach. While some of the career academies, such as the health academies, have developed health and safety materials, many vocational programs and instructors do not have the training or resources to cover health and safety adequately. There should be an effort to identify existing high-quality materials addressing workplace health and safety, child labor laws, and other workplace rights and responsibilities. New materials should be developed as needed. Once developed, they should be distributed in a systematic way, accompanied by technical assistance and instructor training.

Among the suggested activities are:

 

 

Recommendation #2. Integrate information on workplace health and safety and child labor laws into the School to Career system and its related programs outside the classroom.

Objectives. To ensure that all participants in School to Career programs (students, employers, and School to Career staff) understand the importance of health and safety, can identify potential hazards, and know how to get help with health and safety and child labor law issues. To ensure that participating students are placed in safe workplaces.

Description. There are many possible ways to better integrate health and safety into the School to Career system's school-based, work-based, and connecting activities. The most critical strategies identified by the Study Group are to:

Possible additional strategies are to:

 

Recommendation #3. Integrate information on workplace health and safety and child labor laws into state curriculum frameworks.

Objective. To ensure that California teachers will present material on workplace health and safety and child labor laws in several core classes, by adding these topics to state curriculum frameworks.

Description. The California Department of Education's curriculum framework standards provide guidelines (in limited detail) on material teachers should cover in specific subject areas. The guidelines should add education about workplace health and safety to various subject areas as appropriate. This may be possible as part of the current efforts of the Governor's School to Career Advisory Council to integrate School To Career guidelines into all appropriate existing California frameworks. The following frameworks appear appropriate and have been suggested for further exploration: Social Studies, School to Career, Regional Occupational Centers and Programs (ROCP), Physical Education, Work Experience Education, and Health Education at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.

 

Recommendation #4. Integrate information on workplace health and safety and child labor laws into existing teacher training programs.

Objective. To ensure that, upon completing teacher training, all California teachers understand the importance of workplace health and safety and protective child labor laws, can identify potential hazards, and know how to get help with health and safety and child labor law issues.

Description. Workplace health and safety information should be included in teacher training—for example, through the required health class. Topics might include workplace injury and illness among youth, hazards on typical teen jobs, workers' legal rights, and resources to assist students who face health and safety problems at work. Working with the California Teaching Credentialing Commission, a strategy for integrating health and safety education into credentialing requirements could be developed.

 

Recommendation #5. Develop written materials for parents on workplace health and safety issues and child labor laws, and a mechanism for schools to distribute them.

Objective. To systematically provide information to parents about workplace health and safety issues and child labor laws, so parents can help protect their teens from injury at work.

Description. Simple, easy-to-read materials for parents should be developed. These should summarize key information on teens' workplace rights and responsibilities, including hours and task restrictions, as well as information on health and safety hazards. It might be required or recommended that schools mail this information to parents every spring, when students begin looking for summer jobs.

 

2. Strengthening the Role of Work Permits

In California, anyone under the age of 18 is required to obtain a work permit to do paid work. The only exceptions are for those who have already graduated from high school or received their Certificate of Proficiency, who are employed in exempt jobs such as yard work or babysitting, or who work for their own families. Employers must ensure that employees under 18 have a permit for that specific place of employment. Permits carry information explaining the maximum number of hours the young person may work in a day, the range of hours during the day that he or she may work, limitations on types of work allowed, and any additional restrictions imposed at the school's discretion.

Young people obtain work permits from their school or School District office. They submit an application signed by a parent and by the prospective employer. By law, work permits must be issued by trained certificated personnel [E.C. §49110]. However, in many districts, the issuing personnel have little or no training about child labor laws, workplace health and safety regulations, or related issues affecting teenagers in the workplace.

The California Department of Education oversees the work permit system, but each School District is responsible for issuing and monitoring its own work permits. The Department of Education is currently developing a new standard work permit, to be available in early 1998.

 

Recommendation #6. Utilize incentives and/or state requirements to ensure that each School District in California establishes a coherent, comprehensive system for issuing work permits.

Objective. To ensure that work permits are distributed and monitored by trained, knowledgeable staff who have an awareness of health and safety and child labor laws, and who are given adequate time to carry out these functions.

Description. The intent is that each School District office and each school have one to three designated certificated staff on site to issue and monitor work permits. If there is a certificated Work Experience education teacher or coordinator on site, he or she would be required to be one of the designated staff. Each School District would be required to provide and regularly update a list of designated staff to the Department of Education. Schools would be required to provide all staff who issue work permits sufficient work time to fulfill the related functions. (Nothing above is intended to prevent the District Superintendent from designating qualified staff at job training organizations to issue work permits for their own participants.)

 

All work permit staff would be required to receive training on:

(Some of these would require changes to E.C. §49110.)

 

Recommendation #7. Require that certificated staff who issue work permits provide basic, easy-to-read health and safety information to the student, parent, and employer as part of the process.

Objective. To increase student, parent, and employer awareness of workplace health and safety and child labor laws by providing information before students begin work.

Description. Basic information to be provided should include:

The student, parent, and employer should be required to sign that they have read and understand the information. Also, work permit issuers should be encouraged to provide counseling on workplace rights and responsibilities to students applying for permits.

 

Recommendation #8. Promote school district compliance with existing and proposed work permit requirements by providing essential resources, including educational materials, training, computer programs, and financial assistance.

Objective. To increase school, student, and employer compliance with work permit requirements.

Description. A student with a work permit that is effectively monitored by the school is more likely to have a safe work environment. Even existing work permit requirements help provide this protection, if schools comply and have adequate resources. Until there is a more efficient system, increasing compliance with present regulations is vital. Therefore, this recommendation can be implemented independently of Recommendations #6 and #7.

The California Department of Education and local School Districts would, however, require additional funding and staffing to implement the measures below. These include:

 

3. Initiatives in the Workplace

Recommendation #9. Develop and broadly distribute an informational factsheet for employers summarizing relevant child labor and health and safety laws.

Objective. To provide employers with easy-to-use information that will help and motivate them to comply with child labor and health and safety laws, and to make them aware of the need to protect young workers on the job.

Description. The factsheet should briefly summarize:

There should be a broad distribution plan for the factsheet, developed and implemented in collaboration with trade associations, insurance carriers, Chambers of Commerce, School to Career partnerships, Cal/OSHA, California Employment Development Department, and job placement agencies.

 

Recommendation #10. Develop and distribute industry-specific educational materials for employers and young workers, covering hazards and solutions in the most common youth jobs (such as fast food and other restaurant work, retail sales, and work in grocery stores).

Objectives. To provide targeted information that will enable employers and their young workers to identify and control hazards on the job. To present specific, practical strategies for protecting young workers, including examples of successful efforts.

Description. Employers and young workers are most likely to use materials if they are simple and easy to understand. Among these could be short hazard checklists for employers, tailored to their specific type of workplace, to be used in conducting regular self-inspections as well as in worker training. (A factsheet might also be developed with tips on "Ten Things You Can Do to Protect Youth on the Job," tailored to specific industries.) If the multi-agency Targeted Industries Partnership Program (TIPP) selects industries relevant to youth (see Strategies for Enforcement Agencies), materials for those targeted industries should have high priority.

Additional materials could be developed by identifying and writing up "best practices" used successfully by employers in various industries. The following steps could help identify "best practices":

All the materials cited above could be used in educational efforts by career centers, Work Experience coordinators, teachers, employers, and others. Materials specifically directed at employers, including guidelines for best practices, could be promoted through routes such as the media, recognition award programs, employer-oriented publications, trade associations, health and safety groups, and human resource management organizations.

 

Recommendation #11. Encourage employer consultants to incorporate information about protecting young workers into their existing services for employers, and support consultants in these efforts.

Objective. To reach employers of youth through existing, trusted sources, to help them better comply with child labor and OSHA regulations.

Description. Key consultants who are already advising employers in youth-employing industries should be identified and contacted. Such individuals might include loss control consultants representing workers' compensation insurers, trade association representatives, OSHA consultants, and others. Training and resources should be provided to these consultants to enable them to offer advice and basic written information to the employers they serve. This advice and information should cover child labor laws, health and safety precautions, and effective supervision of young workers.

 

Recommendation #12. Integrate young workers' health and safety issues into employer organization meetings and conferences.

Objective. To provide training to employer groups and their members regarding child labor laws, health and safety laws, and strategies for protecting young workers on the job.

Description. An employer workshop should cover:

Employer networks are already in place for wide dissemination of information and training. For example, a workshop could be presented at conferences of the National Alliance of Business and at industry association meetings in the restaurant, construction, and retail trade industries (as well as in other industries that employ substantial numbers of young people).

 

Recommendation #13. Establish a collaborative venture (or partnership) with a key trade association and its insurer(s) to develop a pilot training program for young workers.

Objective. To collaborate with employers and insurers to develop a model program for improving health and safety education of young workers in one industry. The objective is two-fold: to design, implement, and promote a training program for use by others in that industry, and to provide a model of a collaborative partnership that can be replicated in other industries.

Description. A collaborative venture could focus on developing a model training program, including industry-specific educational materials targeted to young workers. One possibility is a project with the California Restaurant Association, which offers workers' compensation insurance to its member businesses, including a loss control package.

 

Recommendation #14. Establish a collaborative venture (or partnership) with a key trade association and its insurer(s) to develop and test a significant safety innovation in the industry.

Objective. To collaborate with employers and insurers to devise means to provide better protection for young workers. The objective is two-fold: to design, implement, and promote a safety innovation in one industry, and to provide a model of a collaborative partnership that can be replicated in other industries.

Description. A collaborative venture could focus on developing model engineering controls or other safety innovations, such as an interlock device for meat slicers that makes it impossible to start them without the guard in place.

 

 

Recommendation #15. Improve health and safety training and orientation for young workers through the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) Summer Youth Program and similar job training programs.

 

 

Objective. To ensure that all students who participate in JTPA summer job programs understand the importance of health and safety, can identify potential hazards, and know how to get help with health and safety and labor law issues.

Description. At present, youth participating in JTPA-funded programs receive a brief orientation from Service Delivery Area (SDA) staff and from their own sponsor site. The adequacy of health and safety training varies greatly from site to site. JTPA and other job training programs could institutionalize more thorough training in the following ways:

 

 

Recommendation #16. Develop and deliver workshops for stewards and staff in unions with significant numbers of young members, addressing child labor laws and young workers' health and safety concerns.

Objective. To increase knowledge and awareness among union stewards and staff of child labor laws and young workers' health and safety concerns. This will help them better protect their young members by identifying and acting upon potential problems or violations, and by directing young members to sources of further information.

Description. By presenting the following information, a short workshop could help union stewards and staff develop problem-solving skills:

 

4. Strategies for Enforcement Agencies

Recommendation #17. Develop a system to provide basic information on key indicators of serious child labor and health and safety problems to inspectors from relevant enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Dept. of Labor (DOL), California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH-Cal/OSHA), and county health inspectors.

Objective. To increase the ability of inspectors to identify suspected serious problems outside their own jurisdiction, and to report them to the appropriate agency.

Description. Information could be provided to inspectors through cross-training, written checklists or factsheets, or other practical delivery systems. An initial needs assessment should be conducted to determine what each group of inspectors needs to know in areas outside their own jurisdiction. For example, labor law inspectors might be provided with a basic introduction to key indicators of serious health and safety problems, although these are not specifically within their jurisdiction. (A factsheet might be developed with "The Five Most Important Problems to Look For.") A system should be established for inspectors in other areas to report suspected health and safety problems to DOSH (Cal/OSHA).

Similarly, DOSH (Cal/OSHA) inspectors should receive information on the most critical, detectable violations of child labor laws ("red flags"), and there should be a system for them to report suspected violations to the DOL and/or DLSE.

Inspectors from all agencies could also be provided with factsheets for employers, summarizing the key laws in various areas. They could then distribute these to employers.

 

Recommendation #18. Develop a targeted joint enforcement, consultation, and education effort (involving DOL, DLSE, DOSH, and other relevant agencies) in an industry with a high number of injuries to youth, such as restaurants/fast food, as part of the Targeted Industries Partnership Program (TIPP).

Objective. To increase employer compliance with child labor laws, health and safety regulations, and employment tax laws by increasing the visibility and effectiveness of enforcement efforts, in an industry with a high number of injuries to youth. TIPP already seeks to achieve this by leveraging the efforts of its participating agencies to maximize their effectiveness.

Description. The Targeted Industries Partnership Program (TIPP), begun within the last few years, combines and coordinates resources from federal, state, and local agencies to enforce labor laws and educate employers and employees about those laws. TIPP's four lead agencies, the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH-Cal/OSHA), the California Employment Development Department (EDD), and the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division (DOL) develop TIPP's agenda and recruit other agencies to participate. TIPP originally targeted the garment manufacturing and agricultural industries. It has now added the restaurant industry, and will begin conducting enforcement activities there in March, 1998. Educational efforts in the industry are already underway. This recommendation supports this recent addition of restaurants to TIPP's targeted industries.

 

Recommendation #19. Develop interagency programs to share inspection and/or injury data that could help target inspection efforts.

Objective. To enable enforcement agencies to target inspection efforts toward establishments or types of establishments with higher than average rates of injury or non-compliance, or with serious injuries or violations involving teen workers.

Description. DLSE, DOL, DOSH-Cal/OSHA, the California Division of Labor Statistics, and Research, and workers' compensation insurance carriers do not currently share data on a regular basis. For example, DOL has not been able to get workers' compensation reports because of privacy restrictions. A working group should be established to:

 

Recommendation #20. Establish a consultation program within DLSE to provide consistent labor law information and assistance to employers and employees.

Objective. To increase employer compliance with child labor laws by providing employers and employees a means to obtain detailed information about applicability of laws to their individual situation, without the threat of an immediate compliance inspection.

Description. DLSE does not currently offer employers consultation services to help them comply with the law without immediate threat of a compliance inspection. However, the possibility of developing such services is under consideration within DLSE. A possible model is the Cal/OSHA Consultation Service, which provides free assistance to employers and employee groups regarding compliance with health and safety regulations. Staff in Cal/OSHA's program do not share information with Cal/OSHA's compliance arm unless an employer is seriously out of compliance and makes no effort to comply.

Federal DOL also has no consultation service at present. Development of a federal consultation service could also be explored.

 

Recommendation #21. Explore development of a "diversion program" for fines paid by violators of child labor laws.

Objective. To use funding from child labor fines to educate employers, youth, and others about protection in the workplace and/or to develop "best practices." The objective of this education and/or development of best practices would be to reduce the number of young workers injured on the job. (See Initiatives in the Workplace.)

Description. Fines for violations would be used to fund programs to educate youth, employers, and others about child labor laws and about workplace health and safety. Some funds could also be used to develop and publicize best practices.

 

5. Raising Public Awareness

Recommendation #22. Develop and distribute informational factsheets and/or newsletter articles for parents and other community members through statewide organizations.

Objective. To help protect young workers from injury by providing information on child labor laws and workplace health and safety issues to parents and other community members.

Description. All members of the community, including parents, medical providers, and others who work with teens should have an awareness of teen workplace health and safety issues and key child labor laws. Organizations such as the statewide Parent Teacher Association, Chamber of Commerce, youth organizations, California Medical Association, and others should be encouraged to provide such information to their members through their newsletters or through targeted factsheets.

 

Recommendation #23. Develop and implement a statewide campaign, "Safe Jobs for Youth Week," to raise public awareness of child labor laws and workplace health and safety issues faced by teen workers.

Objective. To help protect young workers from injury by raising community awareness about child labor laws and workplace health and safety issues.

Description. This public awareness campaign would be based on other successful information campaigns, such as Bike Safety Week and Red Ribbon Week. It could be coordinated with federal DOL's "Work Safe This Summer" campaign, and would involve the following components:

 

Recommendation #24. Establish a Resource Center on Young Workers' Health and Safety.

Objective. To provide educational materials, ongoing technical assistance, and related support to schools, job training programs, and other organizations working to educate students and their communities about child labor laws and teen health and safety issues.

Description. This Center could serve as a clearinghouse for educational resources on teen workplace issues, collecting and making these materials available. The Center could develop new materials as needs are identified. It could arrange for translation of materials into other languages, as needed. Innovative programs for teaching about workplace health safety and other workplace issues, such as peer education programs or new curricula, could be identified and publicized by the Center.

Staff at the Center could also provide technical assistance to programs seeking information on specific laws or school liability issues. Means could include a well-staffed hotline, a Website, and in-service trainings for teachers on workplace health and safety issues and on implementing specific programs.

The Center could be governed by a statewide advisory group, including representatives from education (primary, secondary, community college, and university), government enforcement agencies, business, labor, parents, and others.

 

6. Need for Further Research

Recommendation #25. Identify data gaps regarding occupational illness and injury among young California workers, and develop strategies for filling them.

Objective. To develop strategies for collecting necessary data to help direct and target prevention efforts.

Description. It is currently difficult to find detailed state and local data on the numbers of working teens, where they work, and where and how they get hurt. Some individual research studies have helped provide insight where data is not available. However, it may be possible to identify relatively efficient ways to collect and make available more complete, detailed data.

APPENDIX A

APPENDIX B