It’s that time of year again in the United States: teens are pounding the pavement looking for summer work. Having a job can be an important part of youth development, but the worst work – the ones on this year’s Five Most Dangerous Teen Jobs – should be avoided in some cases or accepted with caution in others.
Jobs for teens are an important part of youth development, providing both needed income and teaching valuable work skills. According to research, teen jobs increase future earnings and also decrease the likelihood the working teen will drop out.
Since 2000 the percentage of working teens has fallen 40 percent—in part because the federal government has cut back on funding for youth programs and in part because of the global economic recession. Job competition may lead working teens who are desperate for work to seek jobs that are unsafe for them.
The National Consumers League (NCL) provides its annual update of its Five Most Dangerous Jobs for Teens to help teenagers and their parents make safer job choices and to increase awareness of job dangers they may encounter.
NCL is also concerned that some states a few states weakened child protections in 2011, and the federal government withdrew proposed rules that would have made work for teens in agriculture much safer.
Each day in America, 12 to 13 workers of all ages die and some of the victims are youth workers. In 2010, 34 workers under 18 died in the workplace—nearly half of those workers (16) were under 16 years old. In the 18 to 19 age group, another 56 workers died.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) estimates that each year about 146,000 youth sustain work-related injuries. That translates to 400 young workers injured on the job every day.
NCL’s Five Most Dangerous Jobs for Teens in 2012: (full report appears at the end of this article)
- 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