Youth Worker Safety December 26, 2018
The National Institute for Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently joined with the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) in order to launch a large-scale effort supporting increased safety efforts for young workers. Young workers are at more risk for workplace illnesses, injuries, and death than workers of any other age group. While young workers usually face greater risks resulting from a lack of previous work experience and inadequate rates of safety training, they are also vulnerable to falling prey to illegal and unsafe work practices of unscrupulous employers.
Young People at Work
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), young workers (individuals who are new to the workforce and up to 24-years-old) face several age-specific workplace hazards that can result in serious illnesses, injuries, or death. Some examples of these known hazards include:
- Stressful work conditions;
- Pressure to work faster and get the job done;
- Inadequate safety training and/or lack of supervision;
- Use of unsafe or defective equipment, and:
- Being made to perform dangerous tasks or work duties that are illegal or inappropriate to assign to young workers
Young workers have the same rights as workers of all other ages, such as a workplace free from recognizable hazards, receiving comprehensive training on safety and health topics, and being able to file safety complaints without facing discrimination and/or retaliation. Although young workers are as equally protected as workers of any other age, they continue to face dangers because of their inexperience and the absence of proper training.
Workplace Illness, Injury, and Death Statistics Among Young Workers
The number of young individuals that die in work-related accidents changes each year, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that young workers (under 24-years-old) make up nearly 15% of the total workforce. In 2015, the centers reported 403 work-related fatalities among individuals in this age group. The younger a worker is (e.g. 15-years-old versus 17-years-old), the higher the chance of experiencing fatal work-related injuries or illnesses becomes. Additionally, workers between 15 and 19-years-old are more than two-times more likely to require emergency medical treatment for work-related illnesses and injuries than workers older than 25.
How NIOSH and the BCSP are Protecting Young Workers
It is because of hazards like these that NIOSH and the BCSP are committed to promoting various health and safety skills specifically for young workers and their employers. In order to advance youth worker safety, the organizations signed a 5-year agreement containing a multi-step plan. Some examples of the steps that NIOSH and the BCSP are going to take to improve workplace safety for young working individuals includes:
- Promoting vital workplace skills that save lives and prevent injuries, like hazard recognition and how to report a violation;
- Providing training on effective hazard control methods, and:
- Offering free training sessions to high school students on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) tracks
Another effective control measure employers can take to limit the number of dangerous and deadly incidents that involve young workers is to ensure that they maintain compliance with federal child labor laws. Child labor laws are in place to protect children and young adults from illegal and unsafe work conditions. To learn more about OSHA’s child labor laws, please visit: https://www.oshaeducationcenter.com/articles/child-labor-laws.aspx.
If you have more questions or concerns about safety violations or a workplace-related illness or injury, please contact a representative at our firm directly.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Represent Individuals Injured at Work
If you were injured at work, please contact our Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers at Galfand Berger. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.