Speaking Out for Young Workers

Speaking Out for Young Workers

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


National Public Health Week Movie Premiere Night by Carlos Rios

This year, National Public Health Week ran from April 4 to April 10. This year’s was titled “Safety is NO Accident”. As my supervisor Jenny Houlroyd mentioned before this theme was perfect for the Center for Young Worker Safety and Health at GTRI, as this is what we focus on a daily basis.


The kickoff event was held at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University that consisted of a movie premiere night, which featured guest speakers, presentations and videos addressing worker safety and health.


The night started with providing delicious popcorn and beverages to the attendees. Jenny Houlroyd, Art Wickman, and I had some trouble figuring out how to work the popcorn machine. After successfully making our first batch, we instantly became pros.


Afterwards, the kickoff event began with a presentation by Shakiyla Smith, Deputy Director in the Department of Emergency Health at Emory University. Her presentation focused on statistics of worker injury and death in the workplace. The main eye-opener was that workers in the 15-24-age range had the highest incidence of the types of injuries and deaths that occur in the workplace when compared to other age ranges. These statistics that Ms. Smith presented made a good and appropriate transition to Jenny Houlroyd’s discussion about the Center of Young Worker Safety and Health at GTRI, which focuses on that particular age range. Both presentations tied in well with each other and were a great way to start off the various other events that took place throughout National Public Health Week.


Up next were a series of videos relating to young worker injury and death. The first video detailed the tragic Triangle ShirtWaist fire that occurred in 1911. The fire caused the death of 146 workers, some of whom were as young as 14 years old. What led to so many deaths was the fact that the managers locked the doors to the emergency exits to prevent any workers from stealing from the factory; they were always checked through secured exits to see if any goods from the factory were stolen. This tragedy led to improving factory conditions and the formation of unions to protect factory sweatshop workers.


The next two videos consisted of common workplace safety scenarios, which were filmed and edited by our other student worker, Dylan Demyanek, and me. The first portrayed a laboratory scenario where a new chemistry teaching assistant is severely injured due to the lack of personal safety equipment and proper handling of chemicals. The other video dealt with the psychological damage and fear a convenience store worker received after cashing out the store alone. Both videos featured Rollins School students, whom we appreciate for taking time out of their busy schedules to make these videos possible.


Dylan and I had greatly enjoyed the video production process, as we were both able to apply what we had learned in the video production class at Georgia Tech. One filming trick we utilized was the splicing of audio and video from two separately filmed scenes, since all the actors for one video were not available to film at the same time. Remarkably the video turned out very well despite this setback. As of now, we established a template in which to edit the next set of scenarios, which we look forward to filming in the near future.


In conclusion, the kickoff event was a great start to National Public Health Week. I am hopeful that events like these were able to educate the public about worker safety and health and that they will be supportive of the mission of NPHW..


What did you do for NPHW this year?


Until next time.