Summer of Hazardous Employment – Who’s Watching the Kids?

As a student working a summer job, what's the most hazardous situation an employer's ever put you in?

I can remember several times as a student when I was put in a dangerous situation, without the proper training or supervision, like working a jack hammer with no training or painting on a high ladder. However, the most egregious example may be the time I was 16 and working for a landscaping company, when, after only a few weeks on the job, I was given the keys to the backhoe and told to clear a small wooded area. I was then left alone at the worksite for the rest of the day.

At the time, of course, I thought it was great and great fun - driving a backhoe and tearing things up. Not only did I not understand the dangers, (dangers that should have been explained to a worker of any age) I did not have the maturity to appreciate what I did not know.

That same summer, a teenage friend of mine got a great paying job working for a lawn fertilizing company, spraying chemicals onto lawns to make them greener and weed free. Unfortunately, within a week, he developed a terrible rash that the company wouldn't acknowledge; and instead of giving him help, the company let him go for bringing it to their attention. They claimed their lawn formula was non-allergenic. Of course, a week after being let go, my friend's rash cleared up and never returned.

I was reminded of these incidents by a recent article in the London Free Press that highlights the vulnerability of youth. Every summer, a new group of kids start working for the first time, and it is up to all of us to see that they do so safely.

When you were a student, did an employer ever put you in harm's way? Tell us your story in the comments section below.

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