IR #2002-04
Wednesday , April 24, 2002

Dean Fryer
Susan Gard
(415) 703-5050

Job safety awareness can prevent injuries among youth in summer jobs
Governor Davis Proclaims May "Safe Jobs for Youth Month"

SAN FRANCISCO - As California youth enter the summer job market, Governor Gray Davis has proclaimed May "Safe Jobs for Youth Month" to focus attention on preventing workplace injuries.

Thousands of young workers - 14 to 18 - begin jobs this summer in California. Many industries employ youth in food service, as courtesy clerks in grocery stores, on construction sites and as cashiers in customer service and retail. These jobs allow California youth to earn money and create positive work experiences. Unfortunately, these jobs can also involve injury and disability if young workers are not informed of the hazards.

"Jobs are a great way for young people to gain valuable experience and income. But young workers need to be informed to stay safe on the job," said Stephen J. Smith, director of the California Department of Industrial Relations. "California's labor laws and safety and health laws protect young workers and we want to remind employers, parents and young workers what the laws are," Smith added.

"I was an assistant at an auto body repair shop when I was 15. I didn't receive the minimum wage, I was exposed to hazardous chemicals, and I was overworked," says Juan Garcia now a college student. "If I knew what my rights were then, I would have talked to my employer," says Garcia. Juan attended an after-school program at UCLA Labor Occupational Safety and Health and learned about safety on the job and worker rights. He became an advocate, teaching classes on health and safety as an intern and he is now attending college full-time.

Every year, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, an estimated 200,000 young workers are injured on the job. An estimated 70,000 are injured seriously enough to go to the emergency room. Studies suggest that youth job injury rates are higher than those of adults, despite the fact that youths are prohibited from working in the most hazardous occupations.

"Young workers should enter the workforce knowing they'll get health and safety training, and ask for it if they don't," says Diane Bush of UC Berkeley's Labor Occupational Health Program, a coordinator of Safe Jobs for Youth Month. "This is a chance to help young workers develop safety skills that will last them a lifetime. They should be learning to take responsibility for problems they see and know it's okay to tell their boss."

Safe Jobs for Youth month increases the awareness of child labor laws and health and safety issues. Information is available at for young workers, parents, employers and educators about keeping youth safe at work. Educational bookmarks (over 600,000) were distributed to high schools and are available to young workers at Cal/OSHA offices throughout California.
Potential hazards facing young workers are:

This public information campaign in California is a collaborative effort by the California Partnership on Young Workers' Health and Safety, California Teachers Association, California Department of Industrial Relations, Labor Occupational Health Program at the UC Berkeley, California Chamber of Commerce, California Department of Education, United Food and Commercial Workers, Labor Occupational Safety and Health at UCLA and the PTA.