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Governor Signs Bill to Promote Teen Workplace Safety Training

Print Article Contributed by FSM Staff

FALLS CHURCH, VA -- House Bill 2010 was signed into law on June 9, 2017 by Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R), encourages school districts and educators to include workplace safety training information in the curriculum of appropriate courses for students in Grades 7-12.

"This new law represents both a challenge and opportunity for Texas and the Nation," said AIHA's immediate Past-President Steven E. Lacey, PhD, CIH, CSP, who testified before Texas State House and Senate committees in support of this bill. "The challenge is to now work with schools and school districts to implement the law - and for other States to enact similar legislation. The opportunity is for AIHA's members to make real progress towards improving teen workplace health and safety by working with policymakers - just like all six of our Texas Local Sections did to help move this bill into law," Dr. Lacey continued.

AIHA has been working on improving teen workplace safety for some time, having partnered with experts at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to develop the Safety Matters program, which raises awareness among teens about workplace health and safety, and provides basic skills that contribute to a safe work environment. The program is 100 percent free, voluntary, with no special training required to deliver it.

Through Safety Matters students are exposed to in-demand professions, such as industrial hygiene, but more importantly, they are better prepared for the potential hazards of their future workplaces. In his testimony before the TX House and Senate, Dr. Lacey was directly asked to address an issue that all schools face: that of time. He stated that rather than "take away from other curriculum content... [Safety Matters and similar programs serve as] a link between STEM education and growing public awareness of workplace injury and illness prevention. Protecting lives and livelihoods is not only the right thing to do; it's an educated and healthy workforce that drives the economy."

Nearly 80 percent of teens are currently in the workforce. Research shows that these teens are twice as likely to be injured at work compared to adults. As a result, nearly 60,000 teens end up in the emergency room annually from workplace injuries.

"We are thrilled with this victory in Texas, but civic engagement does not end with the passage of a law. The work towards ending teen injuries and fatalities in the workplace has really just begun," stated Dr. Lacey. "Now we must ensure that this law is implemented. Workplace health and safety professionals in Texas, in collaboration with AIHA, must now turn this initial effort into action."


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