In 2010, OSHA and the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded over 18.5 million workers aged 16 – 24 in the month of July. As teens and other youth begin to look for summer work, your company may want to consider a plan for training and demonstrating safe workplace practices. Creating a plan can be beneficial since it may be your youth worker’s first job, putting them more at risk for injury.
Before youth workers begin their job, it may be of interest to discuss with the rest of the company how to be patient with new workers and create coachable moments. Developing such a work culture will put some responsibility in your employee’s hands to look out for the youth worker.
As always, train all workers thoroughly which will show the youth worker you are concerned about their well being. During the training process, remind workers to “work smarter – not harder”. Using the mantra “work smarter – not harder” will be most effective if repeated by other employees or posted in the workplace. It will remind the youth worker to do the job well and reduce their chances for injury.
OSHA encourages companies to consider a buddy system so the youth worker can have a mentor and feel more comfortable at work. This can be a wonderful learning experience for the youth worker as well as for your current employees to share valuable information and set an example. Throughout the day, the youth worker can consult with their buddy to observe safe work practices.
Consider creating a plan similar to this with backing of other employees. Company wide support for new employees will be evident in workplace morale and make a difference. Your positive work environment can give youth workers a wealth of knowledge and confidence.