One of the most dangerous jobs for American youth is working on youth peddling crews, especially when the sales crews travel far from home or young salesmen enter the homes of strangers.

NCL’s 2016 Five Most Dangerous Jobs For Teens

The National Consumers League’s annual guide to help working teens stay safe in the workplace

An 18-year-old worker was killed when a silo collapsed at this construction site in 2015.

An 18-year-old worker was killed when a silo collapsed at this construction site in Virginia in 2015.

Report author: Reid Maki, Director of Child Labor Advocacy,

National Consumers League  [This update issued June 2016. “The Five Most Dangerous Jobs for Teens” report is updated annually.]


Section Index

  1. Introduction: Teens continue to get killed and hurt at work
  2. What are the Five Most Dangerous Jobs for Teens?
  3. Job one: Tobacco harvester
  4. Job two: Agriculture: Other types of farm workharvesting crops and using machinery
  5. Job three: Outside helper, landscaping, tree-trimming, groundskeeping, and lawn service
  6. Job four: Construction and height work
  7. Job five: Traveling sales crews
  8. How are teen workers dying and getting injured at work?
  9. Other work hazards to be aware of

10. Tips for staying safe at work

11. Recommendations to protect teens at work

12. Conclusion

  1. Introduction: Teens continue to get killed and hurt at work

Nearly 5,000 workers die on the job each year—each day, an average of 13 workers are killed on the job—some of those workers are teenagers. Each of those deaths are torture for the friends and family of the child worker.

Thousands of children are hurt on the job each year. Many parents don’t think about their children getting hurt at work, but according to the Children’s Safety network, about every 9 minutes, a U.S. teen is hurt on the job.

In a typical year, 20-30 children die on the job in the U.S. Twenty years ago, that number was over 70 per year. In 2012, 29 children died while working. In 2013, that number fell sharply to 14, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The National Consumers League (NCL) was curious—and hopeful—to see if that drastic drop in fatalities would continue, but sadly, it did not.

According to the BLS data for 2014, the most recent data that is available, 21 young workers under the age of 18 died in the U.S.—a 50 percent increase over the prior year. Although alarming, the 50 percent increase in the number of teen deaths between 2013 and 2014 would seem to represent a reversion to recent average fatality totals and the 2013 drop would seem to be an aberration. The increase bears watching however to ensure that the number does not continue to climb.

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The National Consumers League’s Five Most Dangerous Jobs for Teens 2014: An Annual Guide to Help Teenagers Select Safe Employment and Protect Themselves on the Job

Introduction:

Jobs for teens are an important part of youth development, providing both needed income and teaching valuable work skills. A survey from Citigroup and Seventeen magazine released in August of 2013, found that almost 80 percent of students take at least a part-time job during the school year. Many teens take summer jobs. A job can build confidence, teach social skills, and provide an array of other benefits. According to research in the January/February 2011 issue of Child Development, teen jobs decrease the likelihood  working teens will drop out of school—as long as teens work 20 hours or less each week during the school year—and they increase future earnings [Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies].

However, there are dangers associated with teen work. In a typical year, 25-35 children die at work in the U.S. Twenty years ago, that number was over 70. To some extent, these dropping numbers are a result of fewer teens working. Since the recession of 2007, too many teens have been competing for too few jobs. The summer of 2014, however, saw some improvement in the summer teen job market. The youth unemployment rate in July was 13.6 percent—the lowest rate in 6 years. However that rate is still over twice the adult unemployment rate. We believe that health and safety education efforts are also helping to reduce teen fatalities.

Every 12 and a half days a child dies at work. In 2012, 29 children died while working. That number may seem small compared to the more than 4,500 adults who died that year, but for every family that loses a teen, their preventable deaths are an unspeakable tragedy.

This report is an attempt to educate the public about workplace dangers teen workers face with the hope that teenagers, their parents, and employers can work together to reduce accidents and fatalities. Jobs held by teenagers can contribute meaningfully to a child’s development and maturity and teach new skills and responsibilities, but the safety of each job must be a consideration.

Many teens lack the experience and sense of caution needed to protect themselves from workplace jobs. In scientific speak, “young workers have unique and substantial risks for work-related injuries…because of their biologic, social, and economic characteristics.” They are reluctant to refuse to do tasks just because they are dangerous or to ask for safety information. Research on the developing brain suggests that there are neurological reasons why teens do not always evaluate dangers properly—that portion of their brain is still developing.

In the following pages, the National Consumers League (NCL) identifies five teen jobs that are more dangerous than most and provides tips to help teens improve their chances of having a safe and rewarding work experience.

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Traveling Youth Crews Performing Door-to-Door Sales–One of the Five Most Dangerous Jobs for Teens in the U.S.

The startling discovery of the remains of a long-missing 18-year-old girl, Jennifer Hammond, in October 2009, served as a painful reminder that traveling door-to-door sales jobs are very dangerous. A Littleton, Colorado native, Hammond had last been seen in 2009 in a mobile home park in Milton, New York. She failed to show up at a designated pick-up spot two hours later. A hunter found her remains in a forest in Saratoga County, New York six years later.

Parents should not allow their children to take a traveling sales job. The dangers are too great. Without parental supervision, teens are at too great a risk of being victimized. Traveling sales crew workers are typically asked to go to the doors of strangers and sometimes enter their homes—a very dangerous thing for a young person to do.

Under pressure and scrutiny from advocacy groups and state law enforcement entities, it appears that the traveling sales sector today rarely hires individuals under 18. However, in recent years, there have been isolated reports of minors–and more frequent reports of 18- to 21-year-olds–being hired.

Frequent crime reports involving traveling sales crews suggests that the environment they present is not a safe one for teen workers or young adults.

In March 2011, two men in Spartanburg County South Carolina called police and asked them to take them to jail because jail seemed like it would be better alternative than the traveling sales crew they were in. Vincent Mercento, 19, and Adam Bassi, 21, told police they needed to quit going door to door asking people to buy magazines. They said they were tired of being wet and selling magazines and tired of the abuse from the company that employed them which seemed “cult-like.” Their lives were so bad they thought jail would be better.

How Dangerous are Traveling Sales Crews?

In February 2011, Columbia County Georgia authorities arrested a traveling sales crew of 17 individuals for peddling without a license. Five of the arrestees had criminal records, including one individual on probation for child molestation, another with a conviction for statutory rape, and a third for not registering as a sex offender. Would you want your son or daughter to travel in such company?

All 17 individuals were crowded into one van. With vehicular accidents being one of the most common causes of death for young people, NCL urges teens not to accept any job like those on a traveling sales crew that involves driving long distances or for long periods of time.

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NCL’s Five Most Dangerous Jobs for Teens The National Consumer League’s annual guide to help teens select safe employment this summer

National Consumers League

2011 Five Most Dangerous Jobs for Teens

An annual NCL guide to help teens and their parents select safe employment this summer

Contents

Introduction: This summer’s job outlook

The risks of teen employment

Advice for parents: be their advocates

Advice for Teen Workers

2011 Most Dangerous Jobs: An in-depth look

  • Agriculture: Harvesting Crops and Using Machinery
  • Construction and Height Work
  • Traveling Youth Sales Crews
  • Outside Helper: Landscaping, Groundskeeping, and Lawn Service
  • Driver/Operator: Forklifts, Tractors, and ATV’s

A special note about meat packing

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