Could I Get Hurt or Sick on the Job?
Every year about 70 teens die from work injuries in the United States. Another 70,000 get hurt badly enough that they go to a hospital emergency room. Here are the stories of three teens:
- 18-year-old Sylvia caught her hand in an electric cabbage shredder at a fast food restaurant. Her hand is permanently disfigured and she'll never have full use of it again.
- 17-year-old Joe lost his life while working as a construction helper. An electric shock killed him when he climbed a metal ladder to hand an electric drill to another worker.
- 16-year-old Donna was assaulted and robbed at gunpoint at a sandwich shop. She was working alone after 11 p.m.
Why do injuries like these occur? Teens are often injured on the job due to unsafe equipment, stressful conditions, and speed-up. Also teens may not receive adequate safety training and supervision. As a teen, you are much more likely to be injured when working on jobs that you are not allowed to do by law.
National Workplace Injury Statistics
In 2013, there were approximately 18.1 million workers less than 24 years of age, and these workers represented 13% of the workforce. Young workers have high occupational injury rates which are in part explained by a high frequency of injury hazards in workplaces where they typically work (e.g. hazards in restaurant settings associated with slippery floors and use of knives and cooking equipment). Inexperience and lack of safety training may also increase injury risks for young workers. And, for the youngest workers, those in middle and high schools, there may be biologic and psychosocial contributors to increased injury rates, such as inadequate fit, strength, and cognitive abilities to operate farm equipment such as tractors.
In 2012, 375 workers less than 24 years of age died from work-related injuries, including 29 deaths of youth less than 18 years of age. For the 10 year period 1998 to 2007, there was an annual average of 795,000 nonfatal injuries to young workers treated in U.S. hospital injury departments. The rate for emergency department-treated occupational injuries of young workers was approximately two times higher than among workers 25 years and older. The U.S. Public Health Service has a Healthy People objective to reduce rates of occupational injuries treated in emergency departments among working adolescents 15-19 years of age by 10% by 2020, from the 2007 rate of 4.9 injuries per 100 fulltime equivalent workers.
(NIOSH: Young Worker Safety & Health http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/youth)
Washington State Statistics
In Washington State, between 2000 and 2006, 11,125 teens (11-17 years old) reported a workplace injury to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. Ninety-three percent of those teens were 16 -17 years old.
Workplace Deaths of Teens in Washington state (1988-2006)
15 Fatalities - all but one male
- Four - agricultural or construction machinery rollover or crush injuries
- Three - highway vehicle crashes
- Three - struck by falling objects
- Two - suffocation in a grain silo
- One - fall from roof
- One - drowning (irrigation ditch)
- One - stabbing at a fast food restaurant
Teen Injuries by Industry (%) in Washington state (2000-2006)