Employers are responsible for the safety of their workers—including young workers and summer interns. Per OSHA, employers must provide all workers with the necessary training and personal protective equipment necessary to accomplish their job safely. Employers must also have a plan in place for workplace emergencies and have medical services or first aid supplies readily available to all employees, including interns. Summer workers and interns can get lost in the shuffle, and not receive the required training or equipment required to perform their job safely. Here’s how to ensure your interns are safe this summer.
Interns and Young workers
The federal government considers employees up to the age of 24 to be “young workers.” For many of these employees, working at your facility may be their first job and/or their first experience in operating potentially dangerous equipment.
Below are some guidelines from OSHA you can follow to ensure your organization is meeting all federal laws and regulations:
- Understand and comply with relevant federal and state child labor laws. This includes laws that prohibit underage workers from working certain hours or performing dangerous/hazardous work.
- Ensure that young workers receive training to recognize hazards and are competent in safe work practices. This training must be in a language and vocabulary they can understand and must include fire prevention, accident, and violent situation procedures and workplace injury protocol.
- Implement a buddy system for new young workers and interns. Have an experienced employee answer questions and assist in learning about the job and your organization.
- Encourage young workers to ask questions about tasks or procedures that are unclear or not understood.
- Make sure they know where to go and who to ask if they have questions.
- Be mindful of the unique aspects of communicating with young workers.
- Ensure equipment operated by young workers or interns is both legal and safe to use. Clearly label equipment that is not allowed to operate by young workers or interns.
- Make sure to communicate proper procedures to follow if an intern or young worker gets hurt on the job.
Below are a couple of examples taken from OSHA’s website on what can happen if your interns or young workers are not properly trained. For information on how these accidents could have been prevented, visit https://www.osha.gov/youngworkers/stories.html
- “20-year-old worker lost his right middle finger while cleaning a printing press near a rotating gear….”
- “20-year-old carpenter was working for a construction company [fell] while he was trying to install temporary supports for the roof trusses. He suffered a skull fracture with serious brain injuries.”
- “17-year-old assistant pool manager … standing barefoot on the wet concrete floor of the pump room … accidentally contacted the energized mixing motor with her left hand and … was electrocuted and died.”
- “Two young workers (ages 14 and 19) were killed at a grain storage facility in the Midwest when they were sent into a grain bin to ‘walk down the corn.’”
- “18-year-old worker died after becoming entangled in a portable mortar mixer at a residential construction site.”
Protecting temporary workers
Many young workers are also temporary workers, many of who are hired by temporary staffing agencies. Both the host employers and staffing agencies share control over the employee and are therefore jointly responsible for the employee’s safety while on the job. For more information on protecting temps, visit https://www.osha.gov/temp_workers/index.html
Keeping parents/educators in the loop
If you are hiring young workers or interns this summer, make OSHA’s resources available to their parents and/or educators, which can be found at https://www.osha.gov/youngworkers/parents-educators.html. The more people familiar with worker rights, the better for your facility and for your interns or employees.
Young workers and interns can be an asset to your facility, but they need may need special training to ensure they remain safe while working for your organization. For more help on keeping your workers safe this summer, and all year round, contact Vanguard Resources at http://www.vanguardresources.com.