Young workers in the U.S. labor force represent about 14% of the U.S. labor force but have disproportionately higher rate of injuries.
That is the finding of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that analyzed fatal injuries from 1998 to 2007.
The CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) finds that during that 10-year-period, 5,719 younger worked died from occupational injuries or 3.6 deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.
Older workers, 25 years old and up, had 4.4 deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.
During the same time period, there were 7.9 million nonfatal injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms. The injury rate for young workers was about twice that of workers age 25 and older.
The only good news to report is that the fatality rate decreased an estimated 14 percent during the 10-year period. And the rate of injury decreased 19% during the time period.
The CDC used data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) and the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System occupational supplement (NEISS-Work). Other findings:
* Among younger workers the highest injury rates were experienced by workers aged 18 and 19
* Younger Hispanic workers had a fatality rate (5.6 per 100,000), significantly higher than for non-Hispanic white workers (3.3 per 100,000)
* Transportation-related deaths, largely on the highway, were the most frequently recorded event among all age groups. That includes trucks and powered industrial equipment. Injuries and fatalities resulted from a collision, loss of control, sudden vehicle stop, or a pedestrian/worker being hit by a vehicle, a person being hit by equipment, crushed by tools or materials.
* The greatest fatal injuries from 2003-2007 occurred among those working in services (32%); construction (28%) ; wholesale and retail trade (10%); and agriculture (10%).
* For younger workers the highest rate of fatalities occurred in mining (36.5 per 100,000); agriculture (21.3 per 100,000); and construction (10.9 per 100,000).
With many young people about to embark on summer jobs NIOSH recognizes that 77,000 young workers under the age of 18 required emergency room treatment for work-related injuries in 1998. That may represent only one-third of actual injuries.
Injuries such as:
- Amputation of hand and arm in a meat grinder at a family retail grocery store
- Suffocation in a corn bin while working on his family’s farm
- A shooting during a robbery in a restaurant
- Hot grease second and third-degree burns at a fast food restaurant
- A fatal crushing in a cardboard baler
- A chlorine gas inhalation by a 16-year-old restaurant worker preparing to clean floors by mixing cleaning solutions
- Crushing death by forklift in a salvage lumber business
- A fatal collision by responding to a fire call by a volunteer junior fire fighter, age 17
- A fatal injury from a trench collapse while removing broken sewer pipes
- Crushing death beneath a street sweeper
- Inhalation injury from insecticide-containing fertilizer
Parents and employers need to make sure that young workers know the dangers and that the work place has adequately trained them to avoid serious injury and death.
Young workers should not be assigned tasks for which they have no training or experience and should not take it upon themselves to perform these tasks. Young workers also need adequate supervision.
For more information on the rules as they apply to young workers visit www.youthrules.dol.gov or call 1-866-4-uswage. Young workers should understand they have the right to refuse unsafe work tasks and conditions. #