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Chipping off the Old Block

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Duplicate or distribute this activity. Students may work independently or cooperatively.

Hazardous Occupations
We know from Will Durst's Tribute to the Foundry that pouring iron ranks as one of the most dangerous jobs in America. But is it the most dangerous? Both the book The Most Dangerous Jobs in the USA by June English and the Livelyhood Web site have information on the most dangerous occupations in the United States. Find out what they are. Think about the different definitions of "dangerous" when it comes to jobs. Then find out what the most dangerous jobs where you live are. Interview someone who works in one of these occupations. Ask questions such as these:

• What does your job involve?

• What hazards do you face?

• What procedures do you follow to keep yourself safe?

• How much safer is your job today than it was a generation ago? a hundred years ago?

• Would you advise a young person to consider this occupation? Why or why not?

You might ask to tape record the interview and then play back the tape (after editing it to eliminate the ums!) for your class or as part of a school career fair. For help on conducting an interview like a pro, Livelyhood producers have come up with some resource tips about "Being a Media Producer."

Work Addiction
Do you work to live or live to work? Recent data shows that more Americans are working more hours. A recent study from the Family and Work Institute indicates that the average American now spends 47.1 hours a week involved with work. In Segment 2, you saw Trilogy employees who regularly clock 16-hour days and seem very happy. They report that they find their work exciting, fulfilling, and rewarding, as you can see from an the show or from reading an online interview with Trilogy employee Danielle Rios.

But is such total devotion to a job a good thing? When does industriousness become obsessiveness? Is there such a thing as work addiction? Consider these and the following questions:

• What is a healthy amount of time to devote to work?

• Why might a person choose to work long hours continuously?

• What are some of the physical, personal, and psychological effects of devoting so much time to work?

• Would you like to work for a company like Trilogy? Why or why not?

You may want to write up your opinion and post it on the Livelyhood "Chipping Off the Old Block" Web site! Click on "The 24/7 Work Day" option on the left-hand side and submit your view to share with other visitors to the site.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)
If you were an employer, what kinds of things would you do to make your employees less stressed and happier? Work with a group to invent a company and create a plan to minimize employee stress. To create an effective plan you may want to do the following:

• Research the number of hours people in your industry usually work, and find out what kinds of stresses they face.

• Talk to stress reduction experts or counselors to get ideas for how to help employees deal with work problems.

• Check out the "Worker Health and Safety" links on the Livelyhood Web site for groups that could help you identify problems and come up with a plan, including The Occupational Safety and Heath Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, and Center for Disease Control's "Stress as Work" department.

• Investigate the employee assistance programs of one or more firms, or check out the Web sites by looking for "Employee Assistance Services" on a search engine or going directly to sites such as Hurst Place (http://www.hurstplace.com) for information on this topic. Some company or employee assistance provider sites have public documents with solutions for dealing with problems, like National Employee Assistance Services site's NEAS Publications section (http://www.neas.com/htsqml.cgi/sections).

Share your new EAPs with the class. See which company you'd like to work for.