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NIOSH's guidelines for employing teenagers in construction

The Pennsylvania construction industry employs many teenage workers. One of the biggest advantages of employing teenagers is their eagerness to learn. However, certain rules and regulations apply for teenagers working on a construction site, in order to prevent workplace accidents and injuries.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health sets guidelines that employers must follow if they want to employ teenagers. These guidelines are a result of the efforts of NIOSHA, which targets the prevention of workplace injuries and fatalities among teenagers. The efforts are justified considering that the construction industry employs about 3 percent of teenage workers, but accounts for 14 percent of teenage fatalities in the workplace.

NIOSHA recommends that employers follow all state and federal laws when employing teens. One of the more important applicable laws is the Fair Labor Standards Act. According to the FLSA, workers under the age of 16 should only be assigned construction desk jobs or sales jobs. Those who are 16-years-old and 17-years-old can work at a construction site, but only performing those jobs which are identified in the guidelines.

Furthermore, restrictions pertaining to time of work and the number of hours worked, plus adequate safety training and equipment before a teenager starts working on site, must be followed. Additionally, a comprehensive list of jobs provides all the jobs a teenager is not permitted to perform on site.

Sadly, in spite of the various checks, teenagers continue to suffer work-related injuries or are killed on the job in Western Pennsylvania and across the country. A teenage worker or the worker's parents have the right to seek legal recourse in the event that an unfortunate incident occurs.

Source: CDC.gov, "Safe Work for Youth in Construction," Accessed on Sept. 20, 2014

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