When most Americans consider the issue of workplace injuries, they imagine adults getting injured while on the job. Child labor issues rarely receive much attention in the U.S. Every year, however, many young people die or are injured in workplace accidents. A recent report points to poorly regulated workplaces as the cause of many of these accidents.

According to a report by the Colorado School of Health recently published in Public Health Reports, in 2010, there were 88 work-related fatalities among youths under the age of 20. In that same group, 20,000 suffered an occupational-related injury or illness which caused them to miss work.

Having a job can teach young people responsibility, valuable skills and provide a sense of accomplishment. Many workplaces, however, also expose young workers to hazards and provide limited supervision.

The study’s lead author stated, “…a recent national U.S. study reported that 26 percent of workers younger than 18…worked at least part of the day without an adult supervisor and as many as one-third of them reported not having any health and safety training.”

Examples of injuries include: burns from restaurant equipment, cuts by sharp tools used in stores, falls on construction sites and motor vehicle accidents when driving for work. Youths who work on farms are especially at risk. They face hazards including injuries from working with heavy equipment and suffocation in grain bins.

The authors of the report are pushing for improved federal monitoring of the safety of youth workers. Particularly they are advocating for better protections for the many youths who work on farms.

Source: MedicalXpress, “Job injuries among youth prompt calls for better safety standards,” University of Colorado Denver, April 9, 2012

For more information visit our Harrisburg workplace injuries page.