Inoculate Your Kids Against Workplace Accidents

Summer Jobs and Youth Safety

Part-time work and summer jobs are a rite of passage for many of our teens. Odds are your teen has started applying for summer jobs and you have been supportive of his initiative. 
He will learn valuable life-long skills, he’ll improve his resume and you’ll know that he is involved in constructive activities during the summer months. Maybe, just maybe, he won’t be bothering you for money every two minutes. And even if he does, you can remind him that he is now a wage earner.
All of that is true and those are good reasons to encourage your teen to join the hundreds of young people finding work. But it doesn’t end there. Parents need to do more than encourage their teens. 
Teens are vulnerable to injury at the workplace. I’ll bet you figure that as long as your teen isn’t working in industries such as forestry, construction or manufacturing that he’ll be fine. But actually, the highest injury rates occur in restaurants, super markets and general retail industries. While this may be because this is where more of our kids get jobs, the point is that we just don’t consider those as dangerous places for our kids to work.
They don’t have to be if we do our part to prepare them for the job. There are three major themes that influence injury. The first is attitude. Young people believe they are invincible, they just will not be hurt; they’re inexperienced, are unaware of their rights on the job, lack confidence and are afraid to ask questions. 
Second, young workers are unprepared for the workplace. They lack the training they need to keep themselves safe. 
Workplace attitudes is the third theme. The new kid on the job is often given the most boring or physically demanding work. Bored kids often don’t pay strict attention, which leads to accidents. Unless they’ve been taught how to handle physical jobs they are likely to be hurt lifting or pulling. Also, many supervisors don’t take safety seriously and may not have any safety training themselves.
That’s the bad news. 
The good news is that we can inoculate our children and help them prepare for their first foray into the world of work. 
It starts with the parenting they have been receiving since they were little. Have you modeled safety at home? When you cut the lawn do your kids see you wear sturdy shoes and check the lawn for possible flying objects? Do you wear a bicycle helmet when cycling or a lifejacket when out on the boat? Do you talk to your children about safety and let them know why you are careful?
When your child goes for a job interview, let her know that it’s okay for her ask questions. She can ask about risks on the job and about the safety training she can expect. 
Once she has the job, talk to her about it. Ask her about her duties, and listen carefully. For example, if she is a cook and handles grease have her describe what she does to stay safe from burns.
Probably the most important thing you can do is educate your child about her rights. Kids are afraid that if they ask for help or training they’ll be fired. 
Check for information on employment standards and encourage your teen to spend some time on the site. A reluctant teen who thinks you’re being over-protective may be more willing to believe information from the Internet.
Once your child knows his rights and learns to present his concerns appropriately most employers will respond well. Safety is in the best interests of all.

A Few Things Happening with Parenting Today

A number of readers expressed concern over the early education message sent out earlier today. To all of you I suggest you check your calendar, smile and say to yourself “April Fool”.

There are a few changes coming to my website over the next few months. Stay tuned. 
For those who plan way ahead I will be in Washington state and Oregon in June 2011 and in Ontario and New England in late September and early October of 2011.
Contact me and let me know whether you would like  a professional development event or a parenting workshop. I’d love to be able to take advantage of the fact that I am in your town and can offer you quality parenting information.

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