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BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Matt Pomerinke remembers he was a teenager, excited to earn good money at a lumber mill.

Here I am, 18-year-old kid, literally in the overalls my mommy bought me that morning, Pomerinke told a group of students taking welding and construction summer school classes. I just wanted to prove I could be one of the guys. I didn't need any help. I didn't need anybody holding my hand.

It's a story his young audience could relate to.

I remember the first time I was on a job site and feeling exactly the same way, said J.C. Campbell, a 17-year-old student from Squalicum High School in Bellingham.

Matt Pomerinke travels the state as part of a program with the Department of Labor and Industries. Workers aged 18 to 24 years of age are twice as likely to have a workplace accident. What motivates him talk to kids are accidents that killed two teens this year.

Ninteen-year-old Bradley Hogue of Lake Stevens died the second day on the job falling into an auger that was being used to distribute beauty bark at a home.

Eighteen-year-old Cole Bostwick of Winlock decided to become a logger to help support his parents. Bostwick died when a logging carriage fell on him, crushing him to death.

Both accidents are under investigation.

My heart goes to their family, said Pomerinke. It's the worst thing you have to go through.

Working near an unguarded conveyor drive chain, Pomerinke lost something on the job as well.

You get to watch as that sprocket digs through your arm, because my arm didn't get cut off, it got crushed off. This whole section right here, Pomerinke told the class, showing them his prosthetic arm.

He doesn't mince words. And the students get the point.

Makes me think a lot more about it, makes me wonder, said 15-year-old Alekai Faber.

And that's exactly what Pomerinke hopes this new workforce will do.

Get all the training you can, he told the class. Learn that job inside and out, pay attention, ask questions. Learn your rights and responsibilities, things your employer can and cannot ask you to do.

Their lives could depend on it.

If I only reach one kid the entire time doing this it's worth it to me, he said.

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