Many young people in Colorado, and all across the United States, never think they will need to file for worker’s compensation, and they probably won’t. Still, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 145,000 youth actually do get hurt at or become ill because of their jobs every year.
Unfortunately, we just can’t keep our kids from working for forever. Whether it’s for experience, to help with family bills or to save for college, it’s a rite of passage for 16- and 17-year-olds to take on a part-time job. Mom and Dad may have to start letting go sometime, but that doesn’t mean it’s without concern for her safety. Help her prevent a work injury by arming her with knowledge about the laws that regulate workplace safety. Here are a few tips to help keep you, your kid and her employer from getting mixed up in a worker’s compensation claim.
- Any new worker expects to be well trained on how to do his job. He should also be well trained on how to do his job safely. Make sure your kid feels comfortable and knowledgeable about any workplace hazards, and that he is taught how to handle a potential emergency while at work. Encourage him to ask questions of his employer when something is unclear.
- The U.S. Department of Labor names some hazardous occupations totally off-limits to minor workers. Remember, in Colorado, a minor is defined as anyone under the age of 18 unless she has earned a high school diploma/GED. If you’re not sure about a particular job, check with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment about what the federal and state governments allow her to do for work. Everything from heavy machinery to some kitchen appliances may be restricted to certain age groups. Remind your young worker that using equipment she’s been instructed not to can lead to injury and legal ramifications.
- Federal law requires every 16- or 17-year-old worker to take a 30-minute unpaid break or meal period if he is scheduled for a six-hour or longer shift. That break should not be taken within the first hour of work.
- In the State of Colorado, there is no law regulating the times between which a 16- or 17-year-old may work. No minor can work more than 40 hours per week, though, or more than 8 hours in any 24-hour period. Exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis only through the director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
Federal labor laws protect employees of all ages and ethnicities. The specific regulations above were designed to keep minors safe as they venture out from under parents’ wings and fulfill educational requirements. Visit Youth Rules! and get even more information before sending your teen out into the workforce.