Worcester Teen Wins Big

March 13, 2014

With state data showing Massachusetts teens average over 700 work-related emergency room visits each year, Boston teens and state officials working to change these statistics announced the winners of the statewide 4th annual Safe Jobs for Youth poster contest today at the Massachusetts State House.
16-year-old Liz Otero of Worcester won first place, taking home a cash prize of $500. Second place went to Nicholas Horvath of Norfolk and third place to Evelyne Lourie of Newburyport, who took home prizes of $300 and $100 respectively. Otero’s work will also be displayed on MBTA transit vehicles.

“I am really excited about winning the poster contest,” said Otero. "As a student in a technical high school, safety is our number one priority. Safety comes first."
The contest was sponsored by the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH) and state and federal agencies, including MA Departments of Public Health, Education, Labor Standards, and Industrial Accidents, the Office of the Attorney General, Commonwealth Corporation, U.S. Department of Labor. 120 teens participated in the contest, and 36 youth served as judges, including young workers from MassCOSH’s Teens Lead @ Work program.
“I want to thank all the teenagers who participated in this annual contest,” said Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rachel Kaprielian. “While our child labor laws help protect teens from dangerous work, health and safety education is so important in preventing working teens from being injured. Working together with community, labor and government partners, this kind of outreach will help young people stay safe.”
“Congratulations to the winners of the Safe Jobs for Youth Poster Contest,” said Genesis Lumahan, a MassCOSH youth peer leader who presented the awards at the event. “The posters are amazing and are going to play an important role in educating youth on their rights in the workplace and hopefully bring awareness to hazardous workplaces.”
According to the state data from 2006 to 2010, the newest available, there were 2,900 emergency department visits for work-related injuries to teens under age 18. Nationally, young workers have almost twice the rate of non-fatal work-related per hour worked than older workers. The Yes Team explains this high rate of injury can be explained in part by teens tending to be hired into industries that have a high risk for injury, such as restaurants, and that young workers are often provided insufficient health and safety training.
“This contest is important because through these posters we can educate society and people on their health and safety, especially youth workers,” said Daniel Martinez, another MassCOSH youth peer leader and event presenter.
“Health and safety education is an important part of preventing injury on the job for working teens,” said Nancy Snyder, President and CEO of Commonwealth Corporation, which co-sponsored the contest and funded the winning prizes. “And workplace safety is an important employability skill that employers value. This contest promotes values that benefit everyone.”
Honorable mention awardees included Diomedes Anziani of Lawrence; Alexander Begin of Swansea; Christa Diaz of Worcester, Chris Lenzi of Franklin; Josephina Lin of Wellesley; Julia Murphy of Tyngsborough; Gabriel Ocampo of Springfield; Tayla Osborne of Newburyport; and Autumn Overton, Taunton