TEEN HEALTH Published July26, 2019 By Hannah Smith

Summer Jobs Carry Health Risks for Teens

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Teenagers working summer jobs learn the importance of discipline, hard work and the value of a dollar. But some jobs can put a teen's health at risk, particularly when working outdoors in high temperatures. From burns to falls and heat exhaustion, there are many risks that parents need to consider before sending their teens off to work this summer.

Inadequate Training

Summer jobs are temporary by nature, so training - particularly safety training - is often inadequate. Lack of training greatly increases the risk of injury on the job.

Teens who have little or no work experience are even more vulnerable to injury, as they don't know proper safety procedures and precautions.

Heat Exhaustion

Many teens take outdoor summer jobs, such as lifeguarding, yard work or camp counselors. These jobs may allow teens to stay active, but they also put them at risk of suffering heat exhaustion, sunburns, and dehydration. 

"These conditions can put a person in the hospital emergency room with headaches, confusion, cramps, fatigue, and rapid heart rate," says Ankin Law Office.

Teens who work outdoors can protect themselves by:

  • Wearing a sun hat

  • Wearing lightweight, light-colored clothing

  • Avoiding caffeinated drinks

  • Wearing sunscreen

  • Staying hydrated

Overexertion

Overexertion is another concern for teens who work jobs that require manual labor, such as warehouse and grocery jobs. Many teens experience muscle pain or injuries from heavy lifting, loading and unloading boxes, and stocking shelves. 

Common injuries include:

  • Ankle sprains

  • Muscle strain

  • Neck and back injuries

Parents should make sure that teens are aware of these injuries, how to prevent them, and how to treat them.

Burns, Lacerations and Falls

In addition to sunburn, many summer jobs put teens at risk of falls, lacerations, and serious burns. 

Burns can occur when working in a restaurant as a cook or as part of the wait staff. Lacerations can occur from broken glass, and wet floors can lead to slip-and-fall injuries. 

Teenagers who may be doing yard work can suffer chemical burns or injuries from lawn equipment, such as weedeaters, lawnmowers, and hedge trimmers. It's important for teens to receive proper training to operate this type of equipment safely and efficiently.

Chemical Exposure

Teens who work in the janitorial, agricultural or landscaping fields are at risk of injury or illness from chemical exposure. 

Pesticides are commonly used in agriculture as well as landscaping, and janitorial work often requires the use of harsh chemical cleaners. Cleaning jobs also have the risk of biocontamination from items that are being discarded.

Training and supervision are the most important things when it comes to preventing injuries among teen workers. Working helps teens build character, but it's crucial to make sure that they're safe when doing it and that companies are following the law when it comes to working assignments. For example, teens under the age of 18 may not be allowed to work on anything that's higher than 10 feet off the ground. These rules are designed to keep teens safe while learning the responsibility of maintaining a job.

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