Edwin G. Foulke Jr.
Assistant Secretary of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Teen Summer Job Safety Campaign Kick-off Event
Edison Academy, Alexandria VA
11:30 a.m. Thursday, April 6, 2006
Good morning everyone. I am very pleased to be here today.
I want to thank Edison Academy Administrator Brad Rickel for welcoming us here this morning. He is extremely proud of the academy and his students, and very enthusiastic about the new landscape architecture and turf management course that will be offered this fall.
You always remember your first after-school and summer jobs. I sure can remember mine. Would you believe it? It was in landscaping! I remember working in the fresh air and sunshine, looking at my first paycheck and wondering "Hold on! What are all these taxes and deductions -- ?!"
I also remember that my supervisor was not very careful to warn me about some of the expected hazards on the job that I had not noticed.
Every job has hazards, and it is the responsibility of employers to ensure that all employees have the proper safeguards and training to keep them healthy and reduce the risk of injuries.
On this subject, I would like to talk directly to the students here today about OSHA's Teen Summer Job Safety Campaign.
Every year, you and millions of other young people join the U.S. workforce for the first time in either full-time or part-time jobs. You will be eager to succeed, and sometimes that enthusiasm can put you at risk of workplace injury. I am not telling you to be afraid, but I will ask you to be cautious.
The good news is: OSHA is on your team. You may have heard your parents talk about OSHA. We have been on the job for 35 years to help keep your parents and grandparents safe, and today we are working to give you -- and your parents, teachers, and employers -- practical, ready-reference tools to help protect you from illness and injuries while you are at work.
Every regional OSHA office in the nation has a designated young worker contact. I am here today to urge all young employees and their employers to call your local, regional or area OSHA office if you have any workplace safety and health concerns or need advice. They are there to help you.
Our field offices offer a wide range of activities that emphasize young worker safety and health -- so call and ask what we can do for you.
We have a new set of landscaping work safety tips available on the web. There is a special health and safety topics page for young workers about landscaping. I also hope you will explore the web page specifically created with safety tips for Teen Workers. This information is all free and available to you on our web page: www.OSHA.gov
Now, for the industry people and educators in the audience today, my next news is for you. Last year, OSHA signed an Alliance with SkillsUSA, whose affiliates include Edison Academy; and this morning I am very pleased that OSHA is renewing its Alliance with the Professional Landcare Network -- PLANET -- for two more years.
As OSHA focuses on landscaping work during the first year of our multi-year Teen Summer Job Safety Campaign, I want to congratulate John Gibson from PLANET. John has stepped forward to make his organization a model and mentor of safety and health practices for landscape and horticultural service companies nationwide. I appreciate John's commitment to improving workplace safety throughout the industry.
Through our Alliance, PLANET has developed a series of Safety Tip Sheets, in English and Spanish, which are used to train workers how to recognize and avoid major hazards in the industry. These tip sheets are good examples of the kinds of tools employers and employees can use to better address safety and health issues in the workplace. John, thank-you for your work in these areas.
I want to send out one more message this morning to all young workers: Please be careful and stay alert this summer, not only on the job but also while traveling to and from work. Take a few minutes to surf OSHA's web pages and educate yourself about workplace safety and health -- and remember that OSHA is your primary resource for workplace safety and health information.
To employers everywhere, I ask you to pay particular attention to the eager young employees you hire this summer. Watch over them as if they were your own sons and daughters. Teach them how to work safely. Absolutely nothing is more important.