Teenagers throughout Massachusetts routinely take jobs to help out their families or to earn a little spending money. Many teens work only part time while going to school, but some older teens will have full-time employment. Regardless of whether a teen works full time or part time, however, the young adult is still at potential risk of a workplace accident- especially in a troubled economy.
Our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys want to ensure that teens, parents and employers know the risks of injury or even death that teens face when they go to work. While the number of serious injuries among teens in the workplace has been in decline in the past decade, a 2011 article on Boston.com indicated that teen work injuries are still a major problem.
Teens at Risk of Workplace Injury
In April of 2011, Boston.com published an article indicating that there had only been a slight decline in the number of teen work injuries. According to the article:
- Three workers under aged 18 were fatally injured on the job from 2004 to 2008.
- From 2004-2008, another 4,000+ teen workers went to hospital emergency rooms as a result of workplace injuries.
- The rate of teens injured at work is about twice the rate of injury among older, more experienced workers
- Around 30 percent of teenage workplace injuries occur in retail jobs, while another 30 percent occur in the hospitality or food service industries.
- There are approximately 3 teens injured for every 100 teens with full time jobs.
- Teens who are too young to legally work are also at risk of being injured since nearly a fifth of Massachusetts’ middle school students reported having a job other than babysitting or doing yard work.
These numbers show that many teenagers are suffering from injuries at work and demonstrate clearly that these injuries are happening across the board at jobs in a variety of different industries. Some teens, for example, reported cutting their thumbs on meat slicers; hurting their shoulders due to lifting heavy items; or injuring themselves on broken plates.
Protecting Teenagers from Workplace Injuries
While federal laws exist to try to shield teens and young workers from dangerous work, these laws do not do enough to stop employers from putting teens at risk. Some employers will ask teens to do things that they shouldn’t either because the employer isn’t fully familiar with the legal limitations on what young workers can do or because the employer simply wants to take advantage of the lower-cost labor that can often be obtained from a teen as compared to an older and better trained adult.
Teens, when asked to do something dangerous, may opt to do it in order to please their bosses and to avoid potentially losing their jobs. With a tough unemployment market and with millions of young people, including those with college degrees, struggling to find jobs, the problem of teen injuries at work may only grow worse. Teens, desperate to earn a living or to find ways to help their family, will likely to continue to do jobs that they aren’t fully trained for and to take risks with their safety as long as employers allow and encourage them to do so as a cost saving measure.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed on the job, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your workers’ compensation case — 1-888-367-2900.
Contest: New Programs to Focus on Teen Work Safety, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, December 10, 2012.