Why Are Young Workers More Susceptible to Workplace Injuries?
Teens play an important role in the workforce. Even though they’re only just starting to enter the working world, workers under the age of 24 represented about 12% of the entire American workforce in 2020. But while many people in this age range are only working on a part-time basis, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re less likely to get hurt on the job. If anything, just the opposite is true.
According to the CDC, the rate of work-related injuries among workers between the ages of 15 and 19 was 2.2 times higher than it was for workers over the age of 25 in 2018. Does this seem surprising to you? Here’s why that is.
Exposure to Hazards
A big reason why so many teen workers get hurt on the job is the simple fact that they tend to have jobs that involve being exposed to a wide range of safety hazards. When teens get their first jobs, they often don’t work in places like offices, which are typically seen as relatively safe environments. And while teens are also prohibited from working in many jobs that are widely seen as dangerous, many common jobs for teenagers still come with plenty of dangers.
At a restaurant, for example, teens could be working near things like hot grills and fryers, be using knives and slicing equipment, or encounter slippery floors in dishwashing areas. Or at a retail store, they may need to be lifting heavy boxes or moving other heavy objects. If a job involves cleaning, cleaning products can potentially cause injury if not used properly.
Inexperience & Lack of Training
We all need to start somewhere in the workforce. It’s highly unlikely teens are going to head into their first (or one of their first) jobs and know everything that they need to know about how to handle safety issues in the workplace. That’s why it’s absolutely critical that employers take the time to train new employees on how to do their jobs safely. An inexperienced worker of any age is more likely to not fully understand the dangers in a situation or not know how to protect themselves. But because of where teens are at in terms of development, they’re at a particularly high risk of underestimating the dangers involved with a situation or task.
In addition to training, supervision is also critical to ensure that all safety protocols are being followed. This gives a supervisor a chance to step in if they see mistakes being made and allows the employee to ask questions if they need to.
Eager to Please
Getting a first job can give a teen an immense sense of pride. They’re often eager to prove to everyone — to their boss, to their parents, to their friends — that they can do their jobs and do them well. This is a great attitude to have, but the dark side to it is that it can make teens feel reluctant to ask questions or speak up if they feel a situation is unsafe. For example, there have been cases of teens getting cut on the job after being pressured to work with slicing machines that they hadn’t been trained on. Or they may simply be worried about being fired or reprimanded if they ask too many questions or refuse to do something that they feel is unreasonably dangerous or if safety protocols aren’t being followed.
Contact a Michigan Workplace Accident Lawyer
When teens are injured at work, it can have a profound impact on their lives in many different ways. In addition to impacting their ability to work, these injuries can impact a teen’s social life, their experience at school, and their ability to participate in extracurricular activities — and may even have effects that last years longer. That’s why it’s important to have a workplace injury lawyer on your side who fully understands both the law and what your injuries mean to you.
At Goodwin & Scieszka, we have experience handling Michigan workplace injury cases and worker’s compensation claims, helping those who have been injured on the job get the compensation they need to cover all of their expenses, including future expenses. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.