Young workers are vital to the health of the North Carolina workforce. Unfortunately, employers might not be doing enough to protect them. Both teenagers and young adults have shockingly higher rates of workplace injuries and death than older age groups.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the country needs a new comprehensive public health strategy to protect young workers. Researchers came to this conclusion after conducting a study that found workers between the ages of 15 and 24 suffer nonfatal injuries nearly 2.3 times more frequently than workers aged 25 to 44. CDC researchers also discovered additional upsetting information about young workers during this same study.
Millions of ER visits
CDC researchers looked at data collected by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System for this study. They found that between 2012 and 2018 hospital emergency rooms treated 3.2 million workplace injuries for workers aged 15 to 24. Workers aged 18 and 19 had the highest injury rate of 404 for every 10,000 full-time equivalent workers. The injury rate was 281 for every 10,000 FTEs for 15 through 17-year-olds and 287 for 20 to 24 year olds.
This compares to a much lower rate of 195 nonfatal workplace injuries for every 10,000 FTEs among workers 25 to 44. Younger workers are frequently seen for different types of injuries than older workers too. For example, contact with equipment and objects is the most common type of work injury that sends people to the emergency room. Younger workers are more likely to visit the emergency room with punctures and lacerations.
Not enough protection
Younger workers tend to fill different types of positions, such as food service, than their older counterparts. Those same researchers from the CDC cited workplace hazards associated with these and other types of jobs associated with young workers as one of the reasons for the higher injury rate. They also pointed out some of the following problems:
- Child labor laws violations
- Fast work pace
- Minority status
- Lack of skills and experience
- Lack of high quality safety training
Another problem is that many young workers may struggle to identify workplace hazards. Even when they do, some may not be sure how to voice their concerns or report problems. Many are also unaware of their legal protections and may be afraid to point out safety problems.
Talking with young workers
The CDC researchers also want health care providers and parents to talk with young adults and teens about safety in the workplace. While this might be helpful, it is not enough to address the full range of risks that these young workers face when they clock in.
Workplace injuries can affect everyone regardless of how young or old they are, so you should not be worried about your age when applying for workers’ compensation benefits. Unfortunately, this does not mean that securing the benefits you deserve will be straightforward. Since rejections are common when seeking benefits, you should be sure to work closely with an attorney who is familiar with the North Carolina workers’ compensation system.