Speaking Out for Young Workers

Speaking Out for Young Workers

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



Bringing Our Training To You Online!

We are ready to begin testing out our new online training. While we plan on making continual updates to it, we wanted to get it up and out there for anyone interested in going through our basic young worker training. To take the training you will first need to register: http://youngworker.gatech.edu/user/register.

Once you register or if you need to go back to the training go to: http://youngworker.gatech.edu/begin-training.

If you have to leave and go do something else in the middle of the training, don't worry! The training will bring you back to where you were the next time you log onto the website.


Since we are in the intial phases, we welcome any comments or suggestions! Please shoot us an email at youngworker@gtri.gatech.edu if you run into any problems!


Hope you have a safe day!


Jenny Houlroyd


Talk to "America's Job Counselor"

In advance of Labor Day 2012, Secretary Solis – "America's Job Counselor" -- will host a live Twitter chat at 2 p.m. EDT, Thursday, August 30.
This is a great opportunity, especially for high school and college students, to ask questions and receive information on entering the workforce, finding job training programs and identifying up-and-coming careers.

Join the conversation by using the hashtag #LaborDay2012 or tweet questions in advance to @HildaSolisDOL.

For more information and event updates, RSVP at: http://webapps.dol.gov/DOLEvents/Event/View/107/Labor-Day-Twitter-Chat.

We will be participating using Twitter handle @youngworker. Will you be joining us?

What Young Workers Are Saying About Our Training

Young Workers learn about ergonomics testing out grip strength using pencils.

Years ago when we started conducting training for young workers, we quickly realized that your average safety and health seminar just wasn't going to cut it. Utilizing resources developed by some amazing programs we reference on our Resources page, we developed an interactive 6-8 hour primer for young workers entering the workforce. We are proud of this program and believe that it does a great job educating young workers, but don't take our word for it. Hear what some young workers from our training this week had to say!

“I feel very empowered.”

“The workshops were really fun and interesting. Learned a lot and had fun too!”

“I thought it was very good and a well-run program. I think that I will benefit from what I learned. I am glad that I was able to participate.”

“It opens up your eyes more so that you see what your rights are and that you need to make sure that you have been truly trained for the job.”

“I believe it was good course with very helpful, important information. Every younger teen should see/ participate in this class.”

As I caught up on the news this morning...

As I caught up on the news this morning, I was horrified as I read about the shooting that occurred at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine (Warning: the linked article contains graphic pictures). A complicated labor dispute ending in a bloody battle has brought mines to the attention of the international press. However, miners die every day with little notice from our global community. I sat for a moment and reflected on the story: what this event means to the people of South Africa versus what it probably means to most Americans, especially considering that mining is becoming an ever increasingly attractive job here in the US for young workers because of the pay.

I started to think of a book I read years ago, Bryce Courtenay’s The Power of One. In this book, the main character, Peekay tells the story of his life growing up in South Africa and his journey to become a welterweight champion. But, what made me think about the book in relation to the current news is that in Book Three of this novel, Peekay takes a job working in the mines to pay his way through Oxford.  While working in the mine, Peekay is trapped during a major mining accident and saved by a fellow miner, who dies in the process. Through Peekay’s story, you hear about the realities of what conditions were like working in a mine in the 1930’s and 1940’s. This book was instrumental in fostering my passion and interest in workplace health and safety.

I began to wonder what news stories go unnoticed about mining every day. So as an exercise to take a snapshot of what is printed about mines in a 24 hour period, I searched Google for news stories related to mining accidents in the last 24 hours and what I found was eye-opening. Here are some of the stories I found.  There are too many.

·         In Kinshasa, Congo on Monday, a landslide at a gold mine took the lives of at least 60 people. Rescue efforts to save any miners potentially trapped but still alive were hindered by the dense jungle and that the area is controlled by a militia.

·         Half a world away, in Lexington, Kentucky, an official at the Manalapan Mining Company pleaded guilty to federal charges related to failing to note and correct hazardous conditions in the mine. The company that he works for and two of his fellow employees that were indicted pleaded not guilty. 

·         Not too far from Kentucky in Morgantown, West Virginia, 3 employees were injured while working on a drilling operation when a spark caused a methane ignition resulting in a gas well fire.

·         Ironically, as blood was shed over the labor dispute in South Africa, a federal court in Australia ruled that workers who live in mining camps can be denied accommodations if they go on strike.

·         In China, a breaking news story reported that at least 18 miners are trapped in the latest mining accident.

·         Yesterday, an article was posted about a Tibetan that was killed during a protest against Chinese mines.

·         In an article by Franklin Briceno, that details the story of townspeople who have become sick as a result of a copper mining spill in Peru brings to light that conditions in mines also impact an entire community and not just the workers themselves.

·         In another copper mine in Chile, an explosion has left two workers dead.

·         And finally, in Cote Blanche, Louisiana, the North American Salt Mine was shut down because of working conditions.  Since 2009, the company has received over 400 health and safety violations from MSHA (the Mine Safety and Health Administration).

Back to School!

For many students across the state of Georgia, Monday was the first day back to school. As director of the Center for Young Worker Safety and Health at GTRI, with the start of the new school year, I look forward to reentering the high schools throughout the state to conduct safety and health training.

During this time of year, our Center focuses on training students that participate in a variety of the career-related educational programs that the Department of Education offers. This enables high school students to receive the safety training they need before heading out to their jobs.

My first stop this Fall will be Centennial High School, where I will train Ms. Willbanks' healthcare science students. I am continually impressed by the knowledge that these students bring to the classroom and take with them when they enter their career-based jobs. For these students, they not only learn about healthcare science, they get to experience it in the field. What is even better is that this year we have a training module focused solely on the hazards associated with healthcare sciences. I am excited to share this new curriculum with the students and get their feedback.

Check out and download these training materials focused on the healthcare industry.


Please look it over and let us know what you think about this training program!


-Jenny Houlroyd


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