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Teenage Work Injuries Remain Too Common in Massachusetts

According to a report released by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, teen work injuries remain a major issue for Massachusetts despite a slight decline over the past few decades. The report is a part of the department´s “teens at work” project that tracks teenager hospital room visits and teenager workers´ compensation claims related to work accidents.

John Auerbach, the state’s public health commissioner, said “We’re trying to determine what type of injuries occur so we can prevent them in the future…Sometimes, what’s required is more training; sometimes, educating employers; and sometimes, changing laws.”

According to the report, three Massachusetts teenagers under the age of 18 were killed in the workplace and over 4,000 Massachusetts teenagers went to the hospital with an emergency due to work-related injuries from 2004 to 2008. Although the number of teenager injuries has decreased due to higher unemployment rates, the rate of injuries has only slightly declined since 2000. The injury rate, three out of every 100 teenagers, is twice as high as the injury rate for older employees.

Tish Davis, who manages the Massachusetts health surveillance program, said “What we see in our interviews with injured teens is that they’re often doing exactly what their employers are asking them to do…They want to prove themselves; they don’t want to look foolish by speaking up.”

The findings reveal that employers are not following Federal and state rules and thus not providing a safe working environment for teenagers. Under Federal law, minors must not be put in dangerous work situations. Teenagers under 18 are not allowed to work with or use power-driven meat slicers, wood-working machines, bakery equipment and are completely prohibited from working in coal mines, meat packing plants, and saw mills. Massachusetts law prohibits most jobs, other than babysitting and yard work, for children under the age of 14. However, approximately one-fifth of Massachusetts middle school students admitted to having prohibited jobs in 2009.

If you or your teenager has been injured in the workplace, it is advised that you contact a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer.

Sources:

Teen work injuries in Mass. show only slight decline, The Boston Globe, April 22, 2011
Protecting Working Teens – A Public Health Resource Guide, Massachusetts Office of Health and Human Services

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Contact a Massachusetts work injury lawyer if you have been injured on the job.

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