Every year, thousands of young workers start employment in industries in which a multitude of safety hazards exist. Too many young workers nationwide, including in Oklahoma, suffer workplace injuries because they are not made aware of the potential dangers, and in many cases, proper training is not provided. Employers must keep in mind that these youngsters have not developed the safety awareness that may be present in more experienced workers.
This matter has been addressed by the State of Oklahoma in a bill that was recently signed into law. Going forward, school districts will be required to prepare students for the reality of dangerous work environments. Training on workplace health and safety will be provided to students from grades seven to 12. This is a combined initiative of the Oklahoma State Departments of labor and education and is based on a curriculum plan of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Students will be made aware of statistics that will underscore the importance of being prepared. The statistics show that 1.6 million of the workforce nationwide is people between 15 and 17 years old. Annual records show that 59,800 young workers are treated for workplace injuries in emergency departments, and approximately 37 workers under the age of 18 lose their lives in on-the-job accidents every year.
The article did not mention whether students will receive information about their rights, or the protection to which they are entitled by means of workers' compensation laws. Regardless of who is to blame for workplace injuries, claims for benefits may be pursued. Workers' compensation benefits typically cover medical expenses and a percentage of lost wages for those who are not able to return to work immediately. There are additional benefits for workers who are permanently or temporarily disabled in a workplace accident.
Source: safetyandhealthmagazine.com, "Oklahoma law requires student safety training", July 13, 2015