Young Student Workers and Unsafe Summer Jobs

With the spring semester coming to a close, many inexperienced student workers in Montana will be looking for employment opportunities over the summer. When seeking employment, it is important to know that some employers take advantage of these students by failing to train them and by exposing them to unsafe work conditions which result in devastating workplace injuries.

Most students are living on a tight budget and in an effort to make ends meet some are willing to subject themselves to unsafe work practices in order to satisfy their employers. Unfortunately, a large number of inexperienced student workers are sustaining injuries in the workplace and are not speaking up. It is imperative that these student workers understand they have the right to refuse to perform work in a dangerous work environment.

Unfortunately, as protections for injured workers have been curtailed, many job sites remain unsafe places to make a living. In a ten year span, there was an annual average of 795,000 nonfatal injuries to young workers treated in U.S. hospital injury units. In 2012 alone, 375 workers under the age of 24 years of age died from work-related injuries, including 29 deaths of youths under the age of 18. Closer to home, a 21 year old from Edgar, Montana, died of hydrocarbon poisoning due to inhalation of petroleum vapors while working on an oil site.

If you or a young worker you know is entering a potentially hazardous work environment, please keep the following in mind:

Know Your Rights

All employees in Montana have a right to safety training, proper safety gear, equipment, etc. This is particularly important for employees working in the Bakken Oil Field where employers routinely fail to provide the necessary safety gear and equipment in order to reduce costs.  Many of the high risk jobs in the Bakken Oil Field require that employees work on elevated platforms and in areas in proximity to dangerous drilling machinery. The employer is responsible for providing all of the necessary safety training and supplies to ensure a safe work environment. You have the right to refuse to perform unsafe work duties.

Ask Questions

If you feel something was not properly explained to you, or if something you’re doing does not feel right, bring it to the attention of your boss or supervisor. No question is a bad one when it comes to employee safety.  Additionally, it is important to inform employers, in writing, of dangerous conditions which exist on job sites.  This will help employers address safety issues before they result in injuries.

Follow Safety Rules.

When instructions are clearly explained and you feel safe working, it is up to the young worker to follow them. In the event you have a problem with a particular safety rule, it is imperative to ask clarifying questions.

It’s important that student workers speak up and understand that earning extra money in the summer is never worth putting their own lives at risk for an employer who cuts corners on safety.

If you are a young worker who has suffered a serious injury while working in an unsafe work environment, you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. Contact us today for a free consultation in Montana.