Speaking Out for Young Workers

Speaking Out for Young Workers

Commentary and news on occupational health and safety for young workers.



Launching Our New Training Website with a Giveaway!

We are coming to the close of our four years of Susan Harwood funding from the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Even though this fantastic training period is coming to a close, I am excited to announce the launch of our new website and online training portal! We have been hard at work creating a dynamic training program to reflect the training we have been doing in the classroom over the past four years. While the online version will never be as much fun as we have spending time directly with young workers, we are excited to be able to offer this training to anyone interested in learning about safety and health. Our goal is that this program will continue to allow us to train tomorrow's workforce, today. What to know more? Here are some highlights:


First and foremost, I want to draw your attention to the sources page because I everyone to know how much we have appreciated the guidance and support we received while expanding our young worker program.  https://youngworker.gatech.edu/acknowledgement-sources.


Secondly, here is our website and training portal where we now have 7 training modules that can be viewed on the web. Best part about the training is that students can print a certificate at the end of the training, making it easy for educators and employers to be sure the student particpated in the class. https://youngworker.gatech.edu/ and https://youngworker.gatech.edu/training-page.


Thirdly: We now have a secure access FTP site where I can post documents for sharing with employers and educators. This is where we have stored the PowerPoint slides for our trainings, lesson plans, and other handouts. All the documents can be downloaded in formats that make them easy to change to meet an individual's training needs.  https://elsys-sftp.gtri.gatech.edu/public/folder/C1zeWL_Q806U5r-SQ8CNDg/OSHA_Training_Material The password for this site is youngworker.


Finally, we tried to link to as many resources as I could come up with to help young workers and those training young workers. https://youngworker.gatech.edu/external-resources If you know of a resource that should have been included, please let me know. I will be happy to add it.


To celebrate the website and free training program, we will be giving away a tote bag to one lucky person that shares the resources we have to offer. To enter this giveaway, check out our Rafflecopter:



a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thanks again for all of your support!

Jenny Houlroyd

Director of the Center for Young Worker Safety and Health at GTRI

Young Worker Weekly Roundup

Another week has gone by and there were a lot of great stories out there about young workers and other issues pertinent for young people. I have pulled together some of the more onotable stories. Spead the word and share these stories.

The first story comes to us from NPR and is about a young female who has been working at a construction site in the city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to build a better life for herself. This is an amazing story about going against the system to gain autonomy. http://www.npr.org/2013/08/07/207858449/for-ethiopian-women-construction-jobs-offer-a-better-life

The second story comes out of Bangladesh where, sadly, a worker who has been in a coma for 108 days since the collapse of the garmet factory building has died. I feel that it is important that the collapse of this building that killed over 1100 people back in April should stay in the news. http://www.news24.com/World/News/Bangladesh-worker-dies-108-days-later-20130812-4

The third story comes out of China. For years, factory workers in China have been forced to work long hours and stay in dormitories. Conditions for these electronics workers include exposure to toxic chemicals, a disproptionate number of workers committing sucide by jumping out of the windows of hte factories, and reports of an unsually high incidence of leukemia, lymphoma, brain cancer, and other serious illensses. (Also check out this article.) The latest story to hit the news is of a mass protest and strike from the young workers at Foxconn factories.

The forth story comes from California, where a young power line worker was killed by electrocution. Let us remember his life, another young worker taken too soon.

Finally, I plead that every person reading this takes 34 minutes and 56 seconds out of your busy day to watch this video. I promise that you will never pick up your phone to text while driving ever again.


Congrats to the Winners of Our 2013 Poster Contest!


The Center for Young Worker Safety and Health at Georgia Tech Research Institute partnered this year with Brasfield & Gorrie, LLC, Kids’ Chance of Georgia, Inc., both the OSHA Georgia Youth Alliance and the OSHA Georgia Struck-by Alliance, and the Georgia Employee Committee that is planning the Ga Safety, Health and Environmental Conference to sponsor a poster contest with the mission of creating an engaging, positive poster that promotes increasing situational awareness on the job. Brasfield & Gorrie, LLC is generously donating funding for the contest prizes and travel expenses for the Grand Prize winner and a chaperone to travel to Savannah, GA to attend the 2013 Georgia Safety, Health, and Environmental Conference in September.


This contest was designed to not only engage young workers in a discussion about safety and health on the job, but to also promote safety and health as a career pathway. Our grand prize winner was Tyris Gresham, a high school student at Henry County High School, and a student of Mr. Chad Drake. His poster, “Keep Your Head out of the Clouds” highlights the importance of reducing distractions in the workplace and focusing on your work. He will receive a $600 scholarship and will be invited to participate, along with a chaperone, in the 2013 Georgia Safety, Health and Environmental Conference in September. Our first runner-up was Anna Hedden, a Computational Media student from Georgia Tech. Her poster titled, “Age is Relative” highlights the important fact that all workers have a right to a safe and healthy workplace.  She will receive a $300 scholarship.  And finally, our second runner up is Johnson Le also a high school students at Henry County Schools. He will receive a $100 scholarship for his poster titled, “Be Smart…”


Download our full press release and pass the information along: https://youngworker.gatech.edu/node/264 (pdf for downloading at the bottom of the page).



What Workers Should Know about Asbestos Exposure in Construction Jobs- Guest Blog Post

It can take as long as 20 years or even 50 years after an exposure to asbestos before a person is diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer. It is this latency period combined with a lack of knowledge about how dangerous asbestos is that makes young construction workers especially vulnerable to diseases related to the mineral. The youthful feeling of invincibility can come back to haunt you. If you know you work around asbestos-containing materials, be vigilant. Don’t let down your guard.

Exposure to asbestos today may seem inconsequential to a young worker, but it will be life changing if you are one of the unlucky ones who is diagnosed with this rare form of cancer. This type of canceris caused almost exclusively by the unknowing inhalation or ingestion of microscopic asbestos fibers.

Younger Workers More At Risk

Young workers in general are twice as likely to be injured on the job than workers 24 years or older because they often take more risks. It is much the same with asbestos exposure. The average age of someone diagnosed with mesothelioma is 62, which, when factoring in the latency period, fits within a young demographic. After being diagnosed, the average life spanof someone with this disease is only up to one year.

Asbestos-related health issues are most often associated with work exposure. And construction work is among the most heavily hit occupations with asbestos diseases.

Asbestos can lead to lung cancer, asbestosis, mesothelioma or any number of respiratory illnesses. An estimated 3,000 people in this country are diagnosed annually with mesothelioma. It's estimated that another 10,000 people are diagnosed with some form of asbestos-related disease.

Other occupations that are also considered higher risk jobs for asbestos diseases are ship builders, railroad workers, power plant employees and automobile mechanics. Veterans of the military, where asbestos was used in virtually every living quarters and military weapon, were hit especially hard.

Asbestos Use Peaked in mid-1970s

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that once was coveted for its ability to strengthen, insulate and resist heat. Because it mixed well with almost everything, its uses were endless. Its use peaked in the mid-1970s before its toxicity became so widely known.

It was used extensively in construction for both commercial and residential structures. It was used for floors, walls, ceilings and roofs. It is in the plumbing, the insulation, the drywall and the cement. Asbestos was typically added to these products to strengthen them and make them more heat resistant.

Although the use of asbestos has been dramatically reduced in recent decades, and its use is restricted, it has not been banned in this country. It still is used in the construction industry. According to the United States Geological Survey, 1,100 metric tons were imported into this country in both 2011 and 2012.

It also remains prevalent in buildings more than 20 years old. Doing any kind of renovation, remodeling or demolition of an older structure undoubtedly releases asbestos fibers into the air.

Asbestos was used in textured paints and duct tape, pipes and vinyl floor tiles. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that asbestos materials remained in the vast majority of the 733,000 public and commercial buildings in the country.

Author bio: Tim Povtak is a senior writer for Asbestos.com, where he focuses on the health issues that result from asbestos exposure. Before joining Asbestos.com, Tim was an award-winning journalist.

Follow uson Twitter for the latest mesothelioma cancer news.

Announcing the 2013 Safety and Health Poster Contest

Situational Awareness

What makes learning about safety and health on the job fun? How about a poster contest to stir those creative juices? I am excited to announce that this year we have completely revamped our contest. Check out the details for the contest here: http://www.youngworker.gatech.edu/node/260.

This year we are focusing on jobsite safety and health as it relates to situational awareness. Do you know what the people working around you are doing? Are you texting on the job? Do you know if you are trained appropriately for the tasks your employer just asked you to do? This year we want to see how you can put together a creative message that encourages situational awareness on the job.

To make this contest the best ever, we are excited to be collaborating with Kids’ Chance of Georgia, Inc., Brasfield & Gorrie, LLC, and the Office of Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner’s 2013 Environmental, Health, and Safety Conference to create a contest designed to not only promote jobsite safety and health for young workers, but to also promote safety and health as a career pathway. The contest will run from March 1, 2013 through April 15, 2013, and is open to any Georgia Resident who is between the ages of 14 and 24.The winner of the contest will be invited to participate in the 2013 Georgia Safety, Health, and Environmental Conference in Savannah, GA.

I cannot wait to see all the fabulous entrees this year!


Good Luck!


Jenny Houlroyd

Project Director


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