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Zombies get teens to think work safety

By COS Staff
| www.cos-mag.com
Don't Be a Zombie at Work

The American Society of Safety Engineers is gearing up for the summer employment season with a safety tool kit that aims to make safety fun for teens and students entering the workforce. Their line of thinking? If you want to make safety stick with teens, illustrate your point with zombies.

The American Society of Safety Engineers has developed a new safety tool kit aimed at educating teens entering the workforce for the first time, or going back to a seasonal job.

Slippery floors, hot cooking equipment, heavy lifting, loud noises and working alone are some of the dangers teens face as they experience a first job or seasonal employment. If they are not aware of the risk and properly trained and protected, these dangers can lead to serious injuries or fatalities for teen workers, the ASSE said in a statement. 

This month, the ASSE will be rolling out the new, comprehensive Target Teen Work Safety electronic tool kit (www.asse.org/teensafety) to its members.

Included in the kit is the interactive online computer game, Don’t Be a Zombie at Work (www.dontbeazombieatwork.org). The zombie game takes players through a variety of workplaces and risks — good and bad — to illustrate how to work safely and how occupational safety, health and environmental (SH&E) professionals help prevent injuries and illnesses. 

The ASSE zombie game is free and features the imaginary evil BodgeDab Industries. In the game, players help their co-workers avoid becoming “zombies” by finding tools and using information from the game’s SH&E professionals to stay safe on the job. The game revolves around a mysterious corporation that has just moved into a large city, led by reputed evil boss Damballa Bokor, and is opening businesses all over town. At the same time, the people working at these establishments are becoming “unnatural” or zombie-like. And the “virus” is quickly spreading among all workers. The player’s job is to move through these establishments — a restaurant (Club BodgeDab), a warehouse and an office - to save the workers by undoing the workplace hazards.

“The earlier we can reach workers, especially young workers just entering the workforce, on what work safety is and how they can stay safe on the job, the closer we can get to our target of zero workplace fatalities,” ASSE president-elect and PR committee chair Terrie Norris said.

The new, comprehensive ASSE Target Teen Work Safety tool kit, available at http://www.asse.org/teensafety, provides key fact sheets, brochures, research articles, quizzes and presentation aids that can be downloaded and printed.  They can be used for presentations at high schools or community events, Girl Scout meetings, boys and girls clubs and more. The ASSE PR Committee spearheaded the project.

Statistics show that 117 teens under the age of 18 died from work-related injuries in 2007 and another 77,000 teen workers were hurt badly enough to end up in hospital emergency rooms. Throughout the U.S., about 230,000 teens suffer work-related injuries, with most of those injuries occurring in the retail or service industries, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Overall, close to 6,000 workers die from on-the-job injuries and 4.4 million more suffer from injuries and illnesses in the U.S. alone.

In Canada, it’s estimated that young workers are five times more likely to get injured in the first four weeks on the job than their more senior counterparts.

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