Teenagers can be great employees, as they are often quite energetic and ready to “get their hands dirty” at their first jobs. Yet, they also pose a risk to you as an employer because they have a high frequency of injury. This is due in part because they can be impulsive and they lack the experience necessary to recognize job-related hazards.
Do not think of teen workers as simply temporary assistance at your organization—they need to be trained like any other employee. Time and effort spent on training will pay off in the long run when it helps you avoid expensive work injury costs and higher workers’ compensation premiums.
Before hiring teens, consider the requirements of the position and determine if a teenager is suited to complete those tasks. Then establish how you can best teach them to be safe on the job.
If you are hiring teens consider the following loss control recommendations:
- Provide adequate training for all employees, but especially young people. Vocalize your expectations during the first few weeks and do not overlook any small errors. Use these opportunities to educate them on “near-miss” accidents and how to prevent accidents in the future.
- Support your staff with constant safety reminders and refresher training courses.
- Provide increased supervision for teens, especially when they are new to the job.
- Offer clear instructions on how to perform tasks and provide positive feedback as they are learning.
- Encourage employees to ask questions when they do not understand directions.
Other things to consider: Teen workers must be included in your workers’ compensation insurance coverage. In addition, there are different federal requirements for teens who are 14 and 15 years old versus 16 and 17 years old. Learn these rules as they apply to your workplace to avoid potential fines.