OSHA Offers Tips on Protecting Working Teens from Injury in Landscaping
What summer job offers a teen an opportunity to work outdoors, be active, earn a paycheck, and acquire skills? One such occupation is the landscaping industry. As in most occupations, this industry has its share of workplace hazards. Through its new Teen Summer Job Safety Campaign, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is helping make teens more aware of those hazards and the proper safeguards to keep them healthy and free of injuries. The campaign, recently launched by OSHA, is a multi-year project to increase awareness about workplace hazards, and provide possible solutions to those hazards, for young workers and their parents. The campaign focuses on industries in which young people are likely to work during their high school and college years. This year highlights the landscaping industry.
Pesticides are chemicals that kill or control insects, weeds and fungi. They are an industry hazard because they can irritate the skin, affect the nervous and reproductive systems, and cause cancer. The chemicals can enter the body through direct contact with skin and clothes; breathing pesticide-containing mist, dust, fumes or smoke; and ingestion by eating without washing hands first.
Consider the following when talking to teens about recognizing and avoiding the harmful effects of pesticides:
What Teens Need to Know
- If a worker is under 16, child labor laws forbid the handling of certain classes and types of chemicals or pesticides; state laws may be even more stringent.
- Pesticides may be on, or in plants, soil, irrigation water, or air drifting from nearby pesticide applications.
- Employers must provide information and training to employees about hazardous chemicals present in the workplace.
Tips for Teens on Preventing Pesticide Exposure
- Read and follow directions and signs about keeping out of restricted areas.
- Wash hands and face before eating, drinking, using chewing gum or tobacco, or the toilet.
- Wear work clothes that protect the body -- long sleeves, long pants, shoes and socks, and hat or scarf.
- Wear protective equipment -- rubber gloves, splash-proof eye protection, and respirators -- when working with or near pesticides.
- Shower after work (including washing the hair) and put on clean clothes.
- Wash work clothes separately from other clothing.
- If pesticides are sprayed or spilled on the body, wash immediately in clean water.
- Do not touch the eyes, nose, or mouth with hands if one suspects they may be contaminated with chemicals.
- Know where washing and decontamination facilities are, if exposed to pesticides and other chemicals. The employer must provide an area where workers can wash themselves.
Look for more OSHA articles highlighting ways teens can identify and prevent other worksite hazards in the landscaping industry.
More Resources Available
For additional information on young workers and the landscaping industry, visit the following links on the World Wide Web:
Teen Summer Job Safety Campaign
Teen Workers Web page
Youth in Agriculture/Chemicals and Pesticides
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Safety and Health Topics Page on Landscape and Horticultural Services