• Information Date
  • Presented To
    2008 Teen Summer Job Safety Campaign National Kick-off Event
  • Speaker(s)
    Edwin G. Foulke, Jr.
  • Status
Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

Remarks Prepared for

2008 Teen Summer Job Safety Campaign
National Kick-off Event
Rockefeller Plaza, New York City
Monday, April 21, 2008


Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the national kick-off event for OSHA's 2008 Teen Summer Job Safety Campaign.

My name is Ed Foulke, and I am the Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA - the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Within the U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA is the federal agency responsible for assuring the safety and health of our nation's working men and women.

Nearly 40 years ago, OSHA was created to help employers and employees reduce injuries, illnesses and fatalities on the job in America. Since then, occupational injury and illness rates have dropped 60 percent, while workplace fatality rates have fallen 20 percent since 1992. Since OSHA's establishment, U.S. employment has doubled and now includes nearly 115 million employees at over 8 million sites.

Each year, about 6 million young people, age 16-19 years, join our national workforce by taking summer jobs. They work in landscaping, construction, food preparation, and other jobs that provide them great experience while contributing to our economy.

Today, we are holding this special event here on Rockefeller Plaza in New York City to ask everyone ? including employers, parents and teachers ? to help prepare and protect our teens as they enter the world of work.

I want to remind everyone, too, that OSHA safety and health standards for workplaces apply to all employees, regardless of age. I also want to point out that the best way to stay safe and healthy on the job is by practicing PREVENTION - that is, recognizing and addressing workplace hazards.

OSHA's Teen Summer Job Safety Campaign is important because, for young people, a summer job is usually their introduction to the working world in which they will continue as adults. Good working habits - such as learning to stay safe and healthy on the job - are important to learn from Day 1.

This campaign reminds employers of their responsibility to provide a safe and healthful environment for all employees, which includes offering employee safety training and protective clothing and equipment when necessary.

I want to remind young people, too, that they need to know they have a right to a safe workplace, and that OSHA has helpful information available on our website - www.osha.gov/teens.

Here on the plaza this morning we have a group of teens from SkillsUSA who will be demonstrating safe and healthful work practices in a variety of typical summer jobs.

Meanwhile, today in 10 cities across the nation, OSHA offices are holding regional kick-off events focusing on safety and health for teens working in construction, including residential home building. Construction is an industry that can have a lot of hazards, so it is important that everyone - but particularly young people - learn how to recognize and avoid workplace hazards. It is our wish and our pledge to help them go home to their families and friends, safe and healthy, at the end of each and every day.

I remember that one of my first summer jobs was working in construction. One day I was directed to operate a big, earth-moving machine - which today would be an illegal job to assign an under-age employee - and the extent of my safety training was being shown how to move the machine forward and backward. I did not know enough to ask whether the job was safe or if I needed to do anything to avoid injuring myself or anyone else working near me. Today, as I look back at this very bad example of job training, I want to tell you: I feel lucky to be alive, and I want to ask everyone's help to make sure that every teen in America will get through every summer workday safe and healthy because they know what they are doing, and not by sheer luck.

This is a good point to mention that the Secretary of Labor determined that certain jobs are too complex and hazardous for teens under 18 to perform safely. Please look for this OSHA bookmark at the OSHA information booth here on the Plaza; it provides a quick description of jobs teens are allowed and not allowed to do.

Also at the OSHA booth, look for our OSHA Teen Worker brochure, and our handy cards that describe essential safety and health tips for working in landscaping construction, and any other summer job.


This morning we have with us a number of special people who have more specific things to say about staying safe and healthy on the job.

Before I introduce them, I want to mention that also with us today are many invited guests from industry who participate in OSHA's cooperative programs - including our Alliance Program, SHARP, and our Voluntary Protection Programs. These programs are public-private partnerships that help OSHA and businesses work together to protect the safety and health of employees.

Let us welcome our first guest this morning...

It is always a special occasion and an exciting opportunity to see and hear a member of the President's cabinet. From Washington, D.C, please welcome an enthusiastic advocate for workplace safety and health, the Secretary of Labor, ELAINE CHAO.


As its title suggests, the Employment and Training Administration administers federal government job training programs and federal grants to states for public employment service programs - among many other responsibilities.

To say a few words about the importance of training to keep safe and healthy on the job, please welcome the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Employment and Training Administration, BRENT ORRELL.


The teens demonstrating safe and healthful work practices in our booths here on Rockefeller Plaza today are members of SkillsUSA. SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure that America has a skilled work force. I want to thank SkillsUSA for participating in our Alliance Program and for its strong support of OSHA's Teen Summer Job Safety Campaign.

It is my pleasure to introduce an exciting speaker who is passionate about giving teens the opportunity to learn on the job while staying safe and healthy. Please welcome the executive director of SkillsUSA, TIM LAWRENCE.


We have one more very important guest with us today who has some important thoughts for you.

OSHA enjoys a productive Alliance with the National Association of Home Builders. Together, OSHA and NAHB have worked to increase awareness of practicing prevention and safe and healthful work practices in the home building industry.

Because many young people take summer jobs in residential construction around our nation, NAHB is an enthusiastic supporter of OSHA's Teen Summer Job Safety Campaign.

The Home Builders Institute, the workforce development arm of NAHB, has partnered with the U.S. Department of Labor's Job Corps program for nearly 30 years, training and placing more than 2,000 young people annually in the residential construction industry.

Please give a big welcome to the President and CEO of the Home Builders Institute, FRED HUMPHREYS.


I want to recognize other organizations that are here today, supporting OSHA's Teen Summer Job Safety Campaign.

First of all, we have with us today representatives from the New York and New Jersey regional offices of OSHA and the New York and New Jersey Departments of Labor, who have been working for months with the national office in Washington, D.C., to make today's campaign kickoff a success. In their day-to-day duties, they work with local employers and employees to help make every work day a safe day, and I want to express my deep thanks for their efforts.

General Electric is a corporate participant in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs, which is our elite recognition program for outstanding industry efforts to protect employees. GE is a national leader in workplace safety and health. GE made it possible for OSHA to kick off its campaign and to make today's events part of The TODAY Show this morning.

I want to recognize MIKE VIGEZZI, who is GE's global safety program manager and manager of GE's VPP programs. Mike is also a Special Government Employee - an honorary title that means that he has assisted OSHA on many inspections of worksites that have applied for VPP recognition. Mike, thank you for your professional and personal support.

Also here are young people participating in the Department of Labor's YouthBuild program. This program provides young people career training opportunities in the construction industry. YouthBuild makes sure that young people learn how to stay safe and healthy from Day 1 on the job.

I also want to recognize the support of organized labor and many trade associations, including members of the Independent Electrical Contractors and the National Electrical Contractors Association. I thank them for participating in our Alliance Program and being strong supporters of workplace safety and health.

I want to thank the firm Tishman-Speyer for its generous support of our campaign kickoff, including the use of this space on Rockefeller Plaza.


A moment ago we heard from Tim Lawrence at Skills USA. This morning, regional offices of OSHA and regional chapters of Skills USA in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will sign an agreement to form an Alliance to promote job safety and health among businesses in the region that hire young people.

To tell us more about the Alliance Program and to introduce the OSHA and Skills USA representatives, please welcome the director of OSHA's Alliance Program, LEEANNE JILLINGS.


I want to thank everyone who is supporting OSHA's Teen Summer Job Safety Campaign - and especially SkillsUSA and the young people who are here today to demonstrate safe and healthy work practices.

Later in your working life, you may be a manager, a trainer or the president of a company. I hope that you will remember these lessons and make workplace safety and health a cornerstone of your business plan and operations. Some of you may become college professors, teaching management skills in business school; you, too, will have an opportunity to pass on the lesson that workplace safety and health not only saves lives, but protects a business' bottom line.

It is a proven fact that when employees operate under a comprehensive safety and health program, incidents of injury and illness go down, insurance costs go down, and workers' compensation payments go down. At the same time, employee morale goes up, productivity goes up, competitiveness goes up, and profits go up.

I want to invite everyone to walk through our exhibits this morning, pick up information and ask questions. Above all, I want to remind everyone who is a teenager or knows a teenager: Visit OSHA's website at www.osha.gov/teens to learn more about workplace safety and health.

Have a great summer both on and off the job.


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