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NewsFlash: May 16, 2007

Dangerous summer jobs

With May half over, the nation’s teenagers are busy filling out applications for summer jobs, hoping for a chance to put aside some money for tuition or just enjoy their break from school. If they land a construction job, they will find themselves in one of the most hazardous industries employing young workers – against the recommendation of the nation’s workplace safety watchdog, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).  Teens represent a relatively small but growing number of workers in the construction industry.

Young construction workers are more than twice as likely as their older counterparts to be killed on the job, a fact that led NIOSH to recommend that jobs in the industry should be off-limits for workers younger than 18. However, the Bush administration is dragging its feet, calling for more research.

Today’s Economic Policy Institute Snapshot compares the most recent data, from 2005, on fatalities in construction and 14 other industries, finding that more workers, overall, were killed in construction than in any other industry. Among industries that employ significant numbers of youth, only jobs in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sector were more dangerous – that is with more deaths per million employed in the industry – than in construction.  

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