5 Tips For Teaching Youth Crews Appropriate Use Of Fall Protection Equipment

With summer just around the corner, teens and young adults will be looking for volunteer and summer internship positions that will give them practical life skills. This may mean that you will be asked to assist a youth crew on various construction projects. Whether you work with a conservation crew that may need to prevent falls down slippery hillsides while cutting trail or a volunteer youth building crew helping to build a home or community building, there may come the time that you have youth volunteers helping you with projects that require fall protection equipment. Here are five things to remember when you work with youth on a construction site. 

Brush Up On Your Own Safety Knowledge

Before you begin teaching youth how to properly use fall protection equipment, you should feel comfortable utilizing it yourself. Even if you regularly use harnesses and tethers in your everyday work, you should consider taking a refresher course or reading up on fall protection. This will prepare you for any questions your youth volunteers may have and ensure that you are up to date with the latest standards and safety suggestions. 

Select Your Volunteers Carefully 

Not every youth you work with will be able to handle the responsibility of working at a height that requires additional safety equipment. Some youth may be responsible but have a fear of heights. Others may be too reckless to work safely at a dangerous height. If you are supervising a youth crew, it is your responsibility to decide which situations are too dangerous for unskilled workers and which workers can and cannot be trusted to accomplish various tasks. 

Before you decide which crew members will work at higher levels of the project, spend some time getting to know your crew. Begin by holding a small discussion about PPE and then watch to see which youth follow your instructions. Also, look for youth who are comfortable handling various tools on the ground. These are the ones who you will later train to work on higher projects. 

Have the Proper Equipment On Hand 

Any time you are working on high projects, you will need to have the proper equipment. However, if you are working with youth volunteers, you may need to vary your current stash of equipment. You should be sure to have a variety of harness sizes in order to accommodate all of your volunteers. It is also imperative that you perform a safety check on all of your gear before you begin working with young volunteers.  Even after training youth workers, you should regularly inspect your safety equipment as opposed to relying solely on their safety checks. 

Educate Your Volunteers Thoroughly 

Most youth volunteers or interns are not only looking for a summer job, but they are also looking for life experience that they can use in the future. For this reason, it is important to conduct a thorough training whenever you get the opportunity. It would be ideal if you could offer a safety certificate after their training, for them to have something tangible to take with them from their work experience. 

Thorough safety trainings not only prevent accidents, but they also make youth more aware of cause and affect and increase their decision making abilities. 

Supervise Youth Volunteers Closely 

Even after a thorough safety training, you should supervise youth workers closely. You should never have a youth volunteer work on a high project alone. They should always be working in a buddy system or with a certified contractor. You should also not allow youth workers access to safety equipment and high projects unless you are working in the same area as they are. 

Working with youth crews can be a rewarding experience. However, it is important that you are prepared to meet their needs and keep them protected throughout the entire project.