Employees between the ages of 14 and 24 represent approximately 13% of the work force, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This means that at any given time, there is an average of 18 million young employees in the United States. The agency reports that, between 1998 and 2007, hospitals treated approximately 795,000 teenagers and young adults for work-related injuries.
Emergency departments receive visits from workers under 25 twice as often as older workers. In 2012 alone, 375 workers under the age of 24 died in a work-related accident. Of these, 29 were under the age of 18. Lack of experience and safety training, coupled with the types of work pursued, are contributing factors to this higher instance of injury and death. Early careers in food service, agriculture, and hospitality are the most common for this age group, and all of these occupations come with an increased risk. The United States Public Health Service has declared its goal to reduce occupational injury rates among teens by 10%, by the year 2020.
Approximately 950 workers’ compensation claims involving musculoskeletal injuries are filed annually in the United States. The most common cause of this type of injury is heavy or repetitive lifting. Many young workers obtain positions that require constant lifting of items such as boxes, construction materials, crates, buckets, and pallets. Grocery store clerks and stockers, employees in shipping and receiving, kitchen workers, and dishwashers are all examples of positions that rely on heavy lifting.
The food service industry hires a large percentage of teens and college students. Dishwashers and cooks handle many different kinds of knives during the course of a shift. In the retail and grocery industries, clerks and stockers use sharp objects to open boxes. Supermarkets often hire inexperienced youth to operate food slicers. These scenarios have a high potential for cuts, lacerations, and even more severe injuries. Approximately 130 cases of a thumb or finger amputation are reported every year among employees under 24. Annually, an estimated 525 young workers’ compensation claims are a direct result of knife mishaps.
The food industry has one of the the highest rates of burn injuries. Again, cooks and waiters are exposed to a number of dangerous substances and objects, increasing risk. Scalding water, oils, fats, and steam require constant attentiveness. Hot objects such as pots, pans, trays, and food can be easily spilled in a highly busy, active environment like a restaurant, pub, or fast food establishment. One in 40 workers’ compensation claims involve third degree burns.
Falls are a risk for young workers in any type of industry involving ladders, platforms, scaffolding, or stairs. An average of 900 young people are injured in work-related falls every year. Most of these involve bone fractures. Injuries from a workplace fall can range in severity from temporary bruises to serious nerve damage, potentially causing partial or full paralysis. Again, lack of experience calls for extensive safety training to prevent these kinds of injuries.
Altman & Altman, LLP – Workers’ Compensation Attorneys with Experience
A workplace injury can disrupt the lives of an entire family. Medical expenses and lost wages can create overwhelming financial stress, while necessary lifestyle changes can be a difficult adjustment during recovery. At Altman & Altman, LLP we aim to take on some of that burden. If you’ve been injured in any type of work-related accident, we can help. Our compassionate and knowledgeable Massachusetts workers comp attorneys will work diligently to help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.