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Are oil rigs any place for teenagers?

The New York Times' Jack Healy has a story today about the influx of teenagers ditching college for work on oil rigs. Though the positions may be lucrative -- some starting at $50,000 a year -- are oil rigs really any place to send our nation's teenagers?

Tom O'Connor, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, is concerned that as young, inexperienced workers moved into the booming oil and gas industry out west, there is more potential for accidents. 

From explosions to fires, slick surfaces to falling hazards, combustible dust to heavy equipment swinging overhead, there is plenty of potential for hazards on the job. The Times story mentions young workers repairing safety equipment on the rigs, for example. You have to wonder if they have the experience or knowledge to do this, O'Connor said.

Oil tops the list of industries U.S. residents would like to be more heavily regulated, a public opinion poll released this week found. Yet, this is where an increasing number of our nation's youth is heading to launch their careers.

Just how much are these young workers willing to put on the line for these high-paying jobs? Are they willing to risk their lives?

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