OBJECTIVE. Our goal was to examine the hazard exposures, work experiences, and workplace safety training of adolescents employed in retail and service jobs in the United States.
METHODS. This was a cross-sectional telephone survey among working adolescents, 14 to 18 years old, in the continental United States. Data were collected in 2003. Survey items measured self-reported hazard exposures, training, and supervision experiences of working adolescents.
RESULTS. Teens reported working an average of 16.2 hours per week during the school year, including working an average of 2.9 times per week after 7 pm on school nights and 2.6 nights per week after 9 pm. Thirty-seven percent of those under age 16 reported working after 7 pm on a school night, indicating employer violation of federal law. Teens typically perform multiple kinds of tasks in a given job. Higher proportions of females than males are involved in cash handling (84% vs 61%), whereas males are more likely than females to be involved in physically challenging tasks, such as lifting heavy objects (57% vs 22%) or working at heights (35% vs 17%). Despite federal regulations prohibiting teens under 18 from using certain types of dangerous equipment (eg, slicers, dough mixers, box crushers, paper balers) or serving or selling alcohol in places where it is consumed, 52% of males and 43% of females reported having performed ≥1 prohibited task. Although more males reported receiving safety training, they were also more likely to report working without supervision than their female counterparts.
CONCLUSIONS. Teens are exposed to multiple hazards, use dangerous equipment despite federal prohibitions, and work long hours during the school week. They also lack consistent training and adult supervision on the job. It is important for adolescent medicine practitioners to become involved in prevention efforts through both anticipatory guidance and policy advocacy.
- Accepted October 23, 2006.
- Copyright © 2007 by the American Academy of Pediatrics