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Young workers especially vulnerable to suffering work injuries

Many San Diego area residents likely recall the wonder, confusion and general excitement they likely felt upon first entering the work world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during 2013 more than 18 million teens and young adults under the age of 24 were members of the U.S. workforce.

While early work experience teaches an individual many important life skills including responsibility and time management and helps provide financial security; young workers are especially prone to suffering work-related injuries. In fact, the CDC reports that from 1998 to 2007 workers age 24 and younger were treated for work-related injuries at hospital emergency departments twice as often as workers age 25 and older.

There are several factors that contribute to the high-injury rate among young U.S. workers including lack of experience, inadequate job training and physical limitations related to strength. Additionally, the work environments in which many young workers are employed, like restaurants and agriculture, also pose many health and safety hazards.

For a 20-year-old restaurant worker, a slip and fall at work could result in serious injuries that negatively impact an individual's physical health for years to come. Young workers, however, are often less likely to both notice and report hazardous workplace conditions. In an effort to keep young workers safe and encourage vigilance in reporting workplace hazards, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has produced awareness and educational materials targeting working teens and young adults.

These materials serve to educate young workers about their rights to a safe and hazard-free workplace and also proper job-training. Additionally, young workers are reminded that employers have a responsibility to promote a safe work environment by providing employees protective gear, skills training and work-injury protocols.

At any age, a work-related injury can not only be physically painful, but also result in an individual suffering long-term financial implications. In addition to medical costs; work-related injuries to the back, head, legs or neck can inhibit an individual's ability to return to work and perform certain work-related duties. It's important, therefore, that injured workers of all ages take action to recoup compensation via worker's compensation or a third-party claim.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Young Worker Safety and Health," 2015

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: NIOSH, "Are You a Teen Worker?," 2012

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