Thursday, January 19, 2012

Younger Workers at Higher Risk for Work Injuries

According to a study released by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), young employees are almost twice as likely to suffer on-the-job injuries as their older co-workers. An analysis of workplace injuries among young people aged 15-24 between 1998 and 2007 revealed that 8 million young people received medical care for work injuries. Eighteen and nineteen year olds experienced work injuries most frequently. 

Contact with objects or equipment was the most common cause of work-related injuries for workers of all age groups, but accounted for a larger portion of injuries among younger workers (49 percent) compared with older workers (40 percent). These injuries often involved the worker being struck by or against an object, being rubbed or abraded by a machine or object, or caught in or crushed by tools, equipment, machinery, parts, or materials.

Workplace fatality rates for younger workers were also twice as high as the rate for older workers. There were a total of 5,719 fatal injuries among workers aged 15 – 24 between the years of 1998 – 2007. Young Hispanic workers suffered fatal injuries far more frequently than black or white young workers. The greatest number of fatal injuries among young workers occurred in the services industries, the construction industries, the wholesale and retail trade sectors, and the agriculture sectors.

The report concluded that “[l]ack of job knowledge, training, and skills might contribute to increased risk among younger workers, who might be less likely to recognize hazards, less likely to speak up regarding safety, and less aware of their legal rights as workers.”

In my own experience as a Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer, I’ve represented a number of young workers for their workers’ compensation injuries. What I’ve seen time and again, is that young workers who sustain on-the-job injuries are also far less likely to report those injuries, and to seek appropriate medical care than their older counterparts. Unfortunately, young workers who sustain on-the-job injuries are also often taken advantage of by their employers and workers’ compensation insurers, because they’re not aware of their workers’ compensation rights.

Young workers who sustain serious injuries on the job should be mindful of the fact that five years from now, ten years from now, or twenty years from now, those injuries can worsen and become disabling or require significant medical care. If you’re a young person who has sustained a work-related injury, it is extremely important to exercise your workers’ compensation rights to protect your long-term health.

We can help you navigate the complex Minnesota workers’ compensation system and make sure your future interests are protected. For a free, no-obligation case consultation, call Meuser & Associate at 877-746-5680, or click here to send us an email to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys. 


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