Wash. State Program Aims to Reduce Teen Injuries

January 30, 2002

The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) and the Washington Restaurant Association (WRA) have launched a joint program to reduce injuries to teen workers in fast-food restaurants throughout the state.

It began in the Yakima area, with a Jan. 23 safety-training workshop for restaurant managers and supervisors.

The statewide program is centered on preventing slips, falls, cuts, burns and sprains, which account for more than 85 percent of teen injuries in restaurants. Participating quick-service restaurants have been asked to implement new safety procedures, send managers and supervisors to safety-training classes, conduct regular crew safety meetings and place stickers on equipment prohibited for use by teens.

“With aggressive support from employers and the Washington Restaurant Association, we’re convinced we can continue to see a significant reduction in teen injuries,” said Gary Moore, director of L&I. “Making our workplaces safer should be a comforting goal for teens, their parents and their employers.”

The teen-safety initiative was begun in the restaurant industry because it employs 50 percent of teenage workers.

Using workers’ compensation claims data to identify a workplace-safety issue and then addressing the problem in collaboration with private industry is a growing new direction for L&I.

“In this case, workers will benefit from reduced injuries,” said Moore. “For employers, not only do they have the potential of reducing their workers’ compensation costs as reportable injuries decrease, but they also will benefit from the goodwill of employees and customers who appreciate an emphasis on safety.”

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