Teen Summer Job Safety

Teens Focus of New OSHA Multi-year Summer Job Safety Campaign
First Year Targets Landscaping Industry

Do you know a teenager interested in seeking a summer job? Is he/she specifically thinking about working outdoors, perhaps in landscaping? As in many occupations, the landscaping industry has its share of workplace hazards. Through its new Teen Summer Job Safety Campaign, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is helping make teens more aware of those hazards in order to help foster a more positive and rewarding work experience.

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. The first year targets the landscaping industry.

Two industry hazards that pose a threat to young workers are the sun and heat. The sun's ultraviolet rays (UV) can damage the skin and eyes, and can cause skin cancer. Summer heat can lead to heat stress, heat exhaustion and, even more dangerous, heat stroke.

Facts for Teens about Sun Exposure and Heat Stress

  • Sun exposure at any age can cause skin cancer and eye damage.

  • A teen is at extra risk of sun damage if he/she freckles or burns before tanning, has many moles, has fair skin or light-colored hair, or spends a lot of time outdoors.

  • High temperature and humidity, direct sun and heat, limited air movement, physical exertion, and poor physical condition can cause heat stress.

  • Symptoms of heat-related illness include headache, dizziness, weakness, moist or dry hot skin, confusion, vomiting and seizures.

Tips for Teens to Beat the Summer Sun and Heat

  • Wear clothing that blocks light, and covers as much skin as possible. Clothing should be light and loose-fitting to protect against heat stress.

  • Use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, applying it liberally, and reapplying it every 2 hours when sweating heavily.

  • Wear a wide-brim hat and sunglasses that block UV rays.

  • Limit direct sun exposure and seek shade whenever possible.

  • Drink plenty of cool water, about a cup every 15 minutes.

  • Avoid caffeinated drinks, which make the body lose water, and also avoid heavy meals.

  • Take frequent, short breaks in cool, shaded areas.

  • Build up tolerance to the heat and work activity without over-exertion.

  • Perform the heaviest work during the coolest part of the day.

  • Tell co-workers if feeling ill.

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

Safety and Health Topics Page on Heat Stress

Safety and Health Topics Page on Landscape and Horticultural Services