FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
IR #2008-02
January 25, 2008

CONTACT:
Dean Fryer
(415) 703-5050


Labor Commissioner Educates California’s Teens at Youth Conference

January 25, 2008—Berkeley—Labor Commissioner Angela Bradstreet will give a keynote speech today on workplace safety and building leadership skills to attendees of the Young Worker Leadership Academy (YWLA) at the University of California, Berkeley.

Co-hosted by the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation (CHSWC) and the California Partnership for Young Worker Health & Safety, the three-day workshop provides teens with leadership training and employment rights.

“The Academy is an excellent way to empower our young adults to become leaders and take active roles in learning about their employment rights and how to be safe in the workplace,” Bradstreet said.  “These necessary skills will benefit young workers throughout their lifetime.”

Young adults between the ages of 14-17 contribute greatly to California’s economy through summer jobs or part-time work. Unfortunately, 160,000 teens are injured on the job each year in the United States, according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety. Some 55,000 of these injuries are serious enough to require hospital treatment and 30 adolescents died from work-related injuries in 2006.

“Every six minutes a teen is injured in the workplace—twice the rate of adults,” said Department of Industrial Relation’s Director John Duncan. “Unfortunately, they know very little about their employment rights or how to be safe on the job. We need to educate them.”

One program that bucks such trends is the YWLA.  In its fourth successful year, the Academy selected six teams of future workers between the ages 14-17 from a pool of applicants throughout the state of California to attend the workshop.

Learning to assume leadership roles in the workplace enables teens to speak up when placed in unsafe working conditions or asked to work beyond hours set by California Labor Code governing child labor.

Participants also create projects in their communities to promote workplace safety and share the valuable lesson with their peers.

The California Partnership for Young Worker Health and Safety brings together key representatives from government agencies and statewide organizations that are involved with California youth employment and education. The Young Worker Leadership Academy grew out of the Partnership’s work and is now part of the statewide Worker Occupational Safety and was jointly developed by University at California, Berkeley Labor Occupational Health Program (LOHP), and the University of California, Los Angeles’ Labor Occupational Safety and Health (LOSH) Program, in consultation with the California Center for Civic Participation, a national leader in the area of youth development and youth governance.  Additional funding has been provided by the California Wellness Foundation.

Editor’s note: Young Academy participants and subject matter experts are available for interviews in their area.

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