Understanding the Elevated Risk of Workplace Injuries Among Young and Newly Hired Employees

Insurance, Safety & Security,

Understanding the Elevated Risk of Workplace Injuries Among Young and Newly Hired Employees

Recent findings indicate a troubling trend in workplace safety: young and newly hired employees are sustaining injuries at a higher rate than their older, more seasoned counterparts. This is particularly evident among workers aged 16 to 24, who are facing an increased risk of workplace injuries and illnesses. Common hazards contributing to these injuries include slips, trips, falls, overexertion, lacerations, contact with objects or equipment and burns.

Defining “Young Worker” in Today's Context
Traditionally, “young worker” referred to those protected by state and federal child labor laws; however, the definition has evolved to encompass young adult workers aged 18 to 24 who are often new to the workforce and at a heightened risk of on-the-job injuries.

CDC Data: A Closer Look at Young Worker Injuries
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in 2019, workers under 24 constituted 12% of the workforce, numbering over 19 million. Tragically, in the same year, 409 workers under 24 and 34 under 18 died from work-related injuries, underscoring the vulnerability of this age group across industries.

Top Five Workplace Injuries for Young Workers

  1. Slips, Trips and Falls: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) identified these as the most common injuries, with 244,000 cases reported in 2019. Causes include falls from elevated platforms and slips on wet surfaces.
  2. Lacerations: Particularly prevalent among restaurant and grocery store employees, these injuries often involve box cutters, knives and slicers.
  3. Burns: Over 450,000 burn injuries require emergency care annually in the U.S. Young workers in the hospitality and food service sectors are particularly at risk.
  4. Heavy Lifting: Leading to strains and sprains, heavy lifting injuries are notably high in the food service and grocery industries.
  5. Contact with Objects and Equipment: This category, particularly hazardous in industries like wood/paper and metal fabrication, can result in severe lacerations and broken bones.

Proactive Measures to Prevent Workplace Injuries

  1. Rigorous Pre-screening: Ensuring the physical fitness of young and new employees for their roles is crucial.
  2. Formal Orientation: Comprehensive training on company policies and safety practices is essential.
  3. Continuous Safety Training: Under OSHA guidelines, ongoing safety education is a responsibility of the employer, crucial for hazard awareness and proper use of safety gear.

Child Labor Laws: Protecting the Youngest Workers
For those under 18, child labor laws restrict employment in hazardous occupations, including operating heavy machinery, commercial cooking equipment and performing construction jobs. Proper training and equipment maintenance are critical for those over 18.

The Bottom Line: Safety Training Saves Lives and Resources
Implementing safety training can significantly reduce the incidence and impact of workplace injuries. This not only protects young workers but also mitigates costs related to medical care, compensation claims and productivity losses for employers. Society Insurance’s risk management team stands ready to assist businesses in identifying and addressing key risk areas. 

Society Insurance was recently named in the Business Insurance Best Places to Work in Insurance 2023 program, which recognizes employers for establishing exceptional workplaces where employees can thrive, enjoy their work and help their companies grow. The company also is known throughout the industry as a leader in providing superior restaurant and bar insurance, custom-tailored to fit each operation's unique needs. To learn more, visit societyinsurance.com/georgia.

This information is provided as a convenience for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It is provided to assist you in recognizing potential unsafe work problems or conditions and not to establish compliance with any law, rule or regulation.