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News Release

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.


Employment Standards Administration

ESA Press Release: Labor Department Highlights Job Safety for Teens in Summer Jobs [06/09/1998]

For more information call: 202) 219-8211

Washington, D.C. - In an effort to prevent more than 70 deaths and 210,000 injuries to working teens each year, U.S. Labor Secretary Alexis M. Herman launched the department's third annual Work Safe This Summer campaign to educate teens, employers and parents about the importance of workplace safety.

"We want to change those statistics," said Herman. "Our young people should have safe work experiences."

"We're delighted that this year's historically low unemployment rate will create jobs for nearly three-and-a-half million 16- and l7-year-olds this summer. That is very good news for young people who will not only earn paychecks, but will also learn lessons in responsibility, promptness and respect," said Herman. "But we want to make sure that teens also learn habits of safety which will serve them for a lifetime."

The department estimates half of working teens will be employed this summer in the retail industry such as fast food outlets and grocery stores. Another third will work in nursing homes, schools, amusement parks and summer camps. And some will work on farms.

Automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for working teens. But each year young workers are also seriously hurt or killed while driving tractors or operating fork lifts.

Many young people are burned by hot grease in fast-food outlets or suffer injuries when they slip and fall. Others have lost fingers operating meat slicers or dough mixers, or suffer cuts while handling sharp knives used to open boxes at grocery stores. The department has identified jobs that are too dangerous for teens 17 years old or younger, among them, driving, saw milling,roofing, excavating and operating power driven meat slicers, dough mixers, paper balers and wood-working machines.

"Young workers have lost their lives or have been seriously hurt while using equipment or doing jobs that have been specifically prohibited as too dangerous for teens," said Bernard E. Anderson, Assistant Secretary of the Employment Standards Administration. "That's why we are making time to talk to parents, teens and their employers about the most common job hazards facing young workers. I believe knowledge is the best prescription for prevention."

Kmart Corporation is helping to get the word out to shoppers. For the second year, as a sponsor working with the department, Kmart is printing the Work Safe this Summer logo and the Teen Safety Hotline number on 37 million shopping bags.

Anderson and other department officials will fan out across the country this summer talking with employers, teens, their parents and members of the news media to educate the public about what can be done to reduce the number of deaths and injuries to working teens. For the first time, the department is also distributing warning stickers that employers can attach to machines that say: "You Must Be 18 To Operate Or Clean This Equipment."

In addition, the department has "Employer's Pocket Guide to Teen Worker Safety" pamphlets and posters listing "The Teen Workers' Bill of Rights." The pamphlets and posters may be obtained by calling the toll-free Teen Safety Hotline number at 1-800-959-3652, or by visiting our web site on the Internet at

Work Safe this Summer partners are the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Consumers' League and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Child labor laws are enforced by the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division, part of the Employment Standards Administration (ESA).

Editors Note: ESA welcomes interviews about Work Safe this Summer. If you would like to set up an interview please contact Matt Losak at (202) 219-8743.

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Employment Standards Administration
June 9, 1998
Media Contact: David Roberts
Phone Number