Proclamation underlines administration emphasis on
workplace health and safety for teen workers
SAN FRANCISCO --Governor Gray Davis recently proclaimed May as "Safe Jobs for Youth Month" to emphasize his administration's commitment to improving workplace safety and health.
"This proclamation creates a fresh focus on preventing teen injuries in the workplace," said Stephen J. Smith, director of the state Department of Industrial Relations (DIR).
"California's child labor laws allow young workers to acquire work experience and income, while safeguarding their scholastic advancement and physical well-being," said Smith. "We want employers, parents, and teens themselves to know what the laws are, to ask questions, and to make sure young workers are properly trained."
The National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine report that every year approximately 70 adolescents die in the U.S. from work-related injuries, and an estimated 200,000 teens are injured on the job--70,000 seriously enough to go to an emergency room. Studies suggest that teen job injury rates are higher than those of adults, despite the fact that teens are prohibited from working in the most hazardous occupations.
The California Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation has convened the California Study Group on Young Workers' Health and Safety, a statewide task force promoting public awareness of job safety for youth. The study group is identifying strategies to reduce work-related injuries and foster safety and health awareness among youth in the California work force.
Coordinated by the UC Berkeley Labor Occupational Health Program, the California Study Group on Young Workers' Health and Safety sponsored a poster contest among California high school students this year. They are working with the state Department of Education to distribute the winning posters to 1,300 high schools and have launched a new Web site to encourage workplace safety and health at youngworkers.org. In addition, the study group has developed a teaching packet with short activities and resources for teachers to educate students about workplace safety.
"Our teens should be entering the work force knowing that they will get worksite health and safety training," said Smith. "Educating young workers on state labor laws and safety and health codes that protect them is a responsibility we all must share."
DIR continues to work closely with employers and other state agencies on programs promoting a safe and healthy work environment for youth in the workplace. For further information about DIR visit http://www.dir.ca.gov