Whether they are still in high school or back home from college, many Maryland teenagers and young adults search for summer jobs to make a little extra cash and gain essential work experience.
However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that younger workers face significantly high risks for injuries on the job. While it is true that most employees, regardless of their age, often qualify for workers’ compensation, parents and young workers alike can take action to prevent workplace injuries.
Younger and newer workers at risk for injuries
Many young adults find jobs in the service or retail industry. These industries alone often involve various hazards, including:
- Falls on slippery surfaces or from ladders
- Falling objects from storage spaces
- Injuries from sharp objects, including knives or box cutters
- Burns from ovens or coffee machines
These hazards pose a risk for all employees. However, the CDC states that younger workers from ages 15 to 19 go to the emergency room for work injuries at a rate that is nearly double than any other age group.
Why do they face such high risks?
There are two primary reasons that younger workers face such a high risk of injury on the job:
- Lack of experience: Younger workers are newer to the workforce. They often have little previous work experience. And if they are new, they are still learning the skills necessary to work efficiently and safely. However, employers still have a duty to keep their workplace safe for their younger workers.
- Lack of training: While lack of work experience may not be a surprising factor, it may be surprising to hear that many employers do not provide proper safety training to young or seasonal employees.
Parents should talk to their children before they head off to work
The Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Division (MOSH) provides a comprehensive guide to help young workers stay safe on the job. Parents can also use this guide to discuss safety measures with their children.
For example, teens and young workers should:
- Make sure to ask questions about or report potential safety hazards
- Ensure their employer provides them with any necessary safety equipment
- Request safety training, if they did not receive proper training
Young people have as much of a right to a safe workplace as any other employee. If parents discuss important safety measures before their teen starts work, they can help reduce their risk of sustaining a work injury.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “Safe Work for Young Workers.”