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When teenagers get hurt at work

The teenage years are awkward for a wide variety of reasons. Not only are young people transforming into adults and learning who they are and what they want to become, but they also are trying to make their place in the world. They want independence, but it can be difficult to achieve while living with their parents and finishing their school years. So for many, the best way to start finding their own way is to get that coveted first job.

Parents often love the fact that their adolescent children are willing to get out of the house and starting earning an income, but there is a certain amount of worry that comes along with this new milestone. Teen workers are at risk of workplace injuries just like any other employee, and it's important that both parents and young adults know what to do if they get hurt while working.

Common workplace risks for teens

The hazards that teens face while working will vary based on their place of employment and the role that they have there. The following risks are common:

  • Slip-and-fall accidents — Teens are often employed in both sit-down and fast food restaurants, where slip-and-fall accidents are common. These accidents can result in both minor and severe injuries.
  • Heavy lifting that results in injury — Teens that work in stock rooms often have to lift heavy objects. Improper lifting techniques and lack of employee training can increase the risk of injury.
  • Contact with chemical hazards — Young adults who are required to clean while working may come in contact with chemical hazards that can make them ill.
  • Harassment — Many teens face harassment from other employees and customers when they are working each day. Harassment can result in emotional stress and also can take a physical toll on the teen.
  • Violent crimes — Teens that work in retail locations are at risk of being involved in violent crimes, as these places of employment are at a higher risk of theft and other criminal activity.

Teen rights in the workplace

Despite the fact that many employed teens are under the age of 18, they still have rights within the workplace. It is important that both the teen employees as well as their parents know these rights:

  • Teenagers, and all employees, have the right to work in a safe environment.
  • Teen workers have the right to refuse to do a job that seems unsafe.
  • Teen workers have a right to receive safety training for the job they have been hired to do.
  • Teen workers have a right to work without being harassed.
  • Teen workers have the right to receive medical care if they have been injured while working.

Safety tips for working teens

One of the best ways for teens to stay safe while working is for them to begin their job hunt by identifying jobs in which they feel comfortable and confident. Teenagers should evaluate their own physical and mental capacity to complete a job, and focus on jobs that are a good fit for their personality and skillset.

Teens also should work with their employers and develop a schedule that is within the legal limits. In Colorado, a teenager that is 14 years or older is able to work. Teens are able to work in a variety of jobs in the state, such as office workers, stockers, cashiers and fast food workers. Any minor under the age of 18 is not able to work more than 40 hours per week in Colorado, and those under the age of 16 are not allowed to work more than 3 hours per day on school days. 

Any teenager that is hired by a Denver employer should take the proper safety precautions while working in order to minimize accidents that result in injury or illness while working.

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