Editor's Note: ‘These kids today …’

July 28, 2014

This month, Safety+Health features an article on the safety of young workers. We haven’t done an article on this topic in some time, focusing instead on other areas while the poor economy left many young job-seekers struggling to find work.

My oldest nephew, who, during the downturn, reached the age when he could have his first part-time job, is an example of this. He felt seriously discouraged as he filled out application after application without hearing back.

Now, experts say the economy is showing signs of improvement, and my nephew is happy to have been hired recently at a new grocery store near his home. As I write this, he’s undergoing training – including safety training. This turn of events, in addition to him receiving his full driver’s license, has given me a front-row seat to young people’s frequent obliviousness to the fact that they can be injured. My nephew isn’t particularly reckless; it simply doesn’t register with him that he can get hurt. And it’s a good bet that his Auntie Mel was the same way – it wasn’t until I came to work at the National Safety Council that I stopped standing on office chairs to hang holiday decorations.

When this summer began, many state departments of labor re-launched or put extra emphasis on their resources aimed at keeping young workers safe. And just a few weeks ago, OSHA announced it had awarded a grant to an organization that emphasizes peer-to-peer education for teaching teens about preventing workplace violence. 

However, it’s still the safety professionals who play a leading role in preventing injuries among young workers. To those of you who look for ways to reach “invincibles” such as my nephew, you have my respect – and my gratitude.

The opinions expressed in “Editor’s Note” do not necessarily reflect those of the National Safety Council or affiliated local Chapters.