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Read before letting your teen do construction work

teens doing construction

For many teens, getting a part-time job is a part of growing up. For teens living in and around New York City, jobs in construction are a popular choice. There’s no shortage of construction projects or positions on a construction site.

While working in the construction industry can be a great experience, it can also be quite dangerous. In fact, studies show that the construction industry is the second leading cause of death in workers under the age of 18.

Just because construction jobs are dangerous doesn’t mean they can’t be a tremendous benefit to your child. Your teen can work alongside a variety of experienced laborers and get a real education into how buildings are designed and erected. They can learn about a variety of different jobs, from the architecture to engineering to steelworking. They can learn about management and business. All while earning a few bucks.

You don't have to forfeit all of that to keep your teen safe. Do some homework before your teen takes a construction job. Talk to your teen and have them acknowledge the risks. Discuss ways to use caution and minimize the risk of injury. Preparation can go a long way in staying safe on a NYC construction site.

Pick Your Teen’s Construction Job Carefully

Unions have done an amazing job protecting the rights of construction workers in New York City for decades. You can add a layer of protection for your teen by making sure that they land a job through a legitimate union, who has a vested interest in their safety.

A lot of construction jobs offered to teens are offered off the books by employers simply interested in minimizing their costs. If an employer is interested in cutting corners in one area, they’re probably cutting corners elsewhere, too. Safety - and compliance with OSHA requirements - often suffer.

Many construction accidents happen because employers or contractors fail to provide a safe place to work and/or don’t provide the proper safety equipment construction workers need to stay safe. In fact, one of the leading causes of construction accidents is improper fall prevention measures. You want to make sure that when your teen accepts a job, they’ll be working under conditions that are safe. A union can help to keep employers in check and in compliance with the law.

If your teen does get hurt on the job, they might be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits can cover their medical expenses and lost wages. They might even be able to get money for a disability if their injury is severe.

Understand the Dangers Lurking on a Construction Site

Even when all safety protocols are followed, a construction site is still a dangerous place. Workers, especially teens unfamiliar with the hazards of a job site, have to use a lot of care and caution. Knowing how and why construction accidents usually happen can give your teen a leg up.

While accidents can happen for a lot of different reasons, it’s important to be familiar with what OSHA calls the “Fatal Four.” These are the four accidents that are responsible for the most construction-related deaths. The Fatal Four includes:

  • Falls: Slips and falls, including falls from elevated platforms, account for more than one-third of construction accident deaths every year.
  • Struck by an object: Every year, 8.2 percent of construction deaths involve a worker being struck by a falling object, such as a piece of equipment or debris.
  • Electrocutions: Electrocutions are far too common on construction sites, particularly when digging trenches, and account for more than 7 percent of construction site deaths.
  • Caught-in/between: Construction laborers sometimes have to work in tight spaces or beneath heavy machinery. About 5 percent of construction accident deaths involve a worker getting caught between objects or caught in a piece of machinery.

More than 500 workers are killed every year because of the Fatal Four.

Other accidents also cause thousands of construction accident injuries every year. These include scaffolding accidents, machinery accidents, vehicle accidents, and repetitive use injuries. Exposure to hazardous or toxic chemicals - including lead or asbestos - can also cause a construction-related injury.

Finding a job through a reputable source, learning about the dangers, and preparing to work safely can all significantly decrease the risk of injury for teens on a worksite in NYC.

Michele Mirman from Mirman, Markovits & Landau, P.C. is one of the most accomplished lawyers in New York City. Michele has had a tremendous career with an impressive track record of over 43 years. In 1985, she won the then-highest verdict in the United States ($4 million) on behalf of a rape victim. Currently, Michele is the President of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association.