Construction Dangerous Work for Teens – National Consumers League

by Lauren Perez, NCL Communications Intern

We recently looked at the dangers in agricultural work for youth workers, one of NCL’s Five Worst Teen Jobs of 2009. This time we will look at the dangers in constructions and working from heights. The construction industry contains some of the most dangerous jobs; one out of every five work place fatalities is in the construction industry.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports that 14 percent of youth occupational fatalities occur in the construction industry, and the Fair Labor Standards Act has limited the type of jobs youth may perform in the construction industry. This act requires that youth under the age of 16 may only perform office or sales work and are also limited in the number of hours and times of day they may work. Teens aged 16 and 17 may work in the construction industry and on construction sites, but they are restricted from performing tasks that are too hazardous, like driving a motor vehicle, operating power-driven machines, working on roofing operations and demolition.

Falls are one of the most common accidents in the construction industry. In 2005, 32 percent of work-related deaths were from falls. Labor laws prevent minors aged 16 to 17 from working on roofs, but they may still work at heights such as ladders, scaffolding and towers. In 2007, the last year for which there is a report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 16 youth workers aged 16 to 19 suffered fatalities from falling. That year, a 19-year-old worker died when he fell 10 feet. The employee was helping on a home remodel and was standing and working on a beam, which broke underneath him. The Department of Labor states that any time a worker is at a height of four feet or more, the worker is at risk and needs to be protected. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides information on construction standards and regulations that teen workers should be aware of.

Next time, we will take a look at another of the Five Worst Teen Jobs: driving and operating forklifts, tractors, and all-terrain vehicles.