Workplace Safety

Safety Training for Teenage Workers Hits the Classroom

Millions of teenagers are employed in the United States, and they are subject to the accompanying workplace hazards. So, in addition to math, social studies, and English, some students in grades 7 through 12 will participate in an interactive teaching module titled Safety Matters. Read on to find out who’s bringing the safety message into the classroom and why.

The initiative is being led by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA). Members of both groups will help introduce the 1-hour course to students across the United States.

According to an article published by the AIHA, approximately 1.6 million teens aged 15–17 are employed in the United States. On average, each year 60,000 of these young workers are injured seriously enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room.


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Young workers have high occupational injury rates, which are in part explained by the high frequency of injury hazards such as slippery floors and the use of knives and cooking equipment in restaurants. Inexperience and lack of safety training may also increase the risk. NIOSH says that for the youngest workers, those in middle school and high school, biological and psychosocial factors (like inadequate strength and cognitive abilities) may contribute to increased injury rates.

The Safety Matters curriculum is intended to raise awareness among young workers about safety and health. It stresses that many workplace injuries and illnesses are predictable and can be prevented. Students learn that employers are responsible for—and that employees have the right to—safe and healthy work. Among the topics covered are:

  • Identifying hazards at work;
  • Injury and illness prevention;
  • Identifying emergencies at work and deciding on the best ways to address them; and
  • Communicating with others, including people in authority, when young workers feel unsafe or threatened.


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The course can also be used by safety professionals to equip young people with the skills and knowledge they need to stay safe on the job throughout their working lives. The material is based on a full NIOSH-developed curriculum called Youth@Work—Talking Safety.

Safety Matters, the new course, is NIOSH publication 2016-100 and is online at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2016-100/pdfs/2016-100.pdf.

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