May 18 2012

Teenagers at Work – A Recipe for Disaster?

Teenagers at workTeenagers at work are just a difficult as when they’re home.

At home parents wonder what happened to that cute little kid they brought home from the hospital 15 years ago? Aliens kidnapped them and replaced them with something that looks the same but surely couldn’t have been a product of their loins – invasion of the body snatchers maybe?

They don’t seem to believe that the normal rules of behaviour apply to them. They’re lazy, discourteous, argumentative and do things that make no sense and are often downright dangerous (look at their driving for example). Or so it seems.

As bad as that is around the home imagine the teenager at work, particularly if it’s not in an office. All that powerful machinery, high voltage electricity, chemicals and all sorts of other stuff that could see you being asked to come down to the hospital.

There’s no doubt that teenagers at work pose a special challenge to their supervisors and to the safety people.

Safety rules that make perfect sense to adults who’ve worked for several years seem to have absolutely no value to teenagers. To them it seems as if the safety rules are a personal challenge to beat. Look at this for an example:

At first I thought the guy was tightening the chuck but on closer inspection he’s setting himself up to try to prevent the chuck from turning once the motor was switched on. Not a really good sign of an intelligent life form and he was lucky to come out of this with just a couple of bruises (to his ego as well as his body) – he could easily have broken a number of bones and possibly even been killed if he’d fallen a little differently.  Looking at the video an obvious question is “Why did they do it, surely common sense would have told them that what they were doing was dangerous?”

It’s been long suspected that the teenage brain doesn’t work the same as adult brains. Now there’s scientific evidence that supports that belief.

Silvia Bunge, assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, wants to use what she knows about the teenage brain to help society deal with young risk takers.

If you don’t want to watch the video click here to read an article about this.

Since it seems that parts of adolescent boy’s brains are switched off that there should have been more supervision. But teenagers at work can’t be directly supervised all the time and, as anyone who’s raised teenagers will agree, the best way of getting a teenager offside is to tell them what to do all the time. Teenagers don’t seem able to accurately assessing risk and will do things that adults see as dumb but they see differently. I don’t think there’s a guaranteed solution to this. Look at the millions of dollars spend on educating teenagers on safe driving and look at how many of them are still killed and injured every year. They seem to believe they are invulnerable and take risks based on that belief.

Despite this, we don’t stop trying and that’s the way it’s got to be. Keep on punching out the message, don’t assume because you’ve told them once or twice or three times that the message has got through. Be patient, try getting one of their peer group who’s had an accident to speak of what happened, how it happened and the effect it had on their life outside of work. Maybe get the parents of a teenager hurt at work to speak of the effects. And don’t  tolerate teenagers at work breaking the safety rules. Correct them and instruct them again in how they’re supposed to the job.

Having teenagers at work can be an exasperating experience but remember we were all teenagers at one time and we all probably behaved somewhat similarly. Fortunately, most people grow out of this but for some it never seems to happen:

See the original video here;  and the HSE press release about the prosecution here

That’s petrol that’s spilling out of that truck and I would hope if I were in that situation that I wouldn’t go walking through it scratching my head wondering what to do – I hope, but who knows until you’re placed in that position. I guess it confirms that it’s not just teenagers that do things at work that defy common sense and maybe common sense isn’t all that common or sensible.







Enhanced by Zemanta

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.