According to the Centers for Disease Control, the incidence rate for non-fatal injuries for workers, ages 16–19, was 110.3 per 10,000 and 99.3 per 10,000 for workers, ages 20–24 in 2018. Due to youth workers’ inexperience, young (16–24) workers have high rates of job-related injuries. Employers that heed child labor laws, adequately train their young employees and create an environment that welcomes open communication can significantly reduce the risk of youth worker injuries.
Employers have particular responsibilities to their youth workers they don’t have to their adult workers. If the employee is under 18, federal and state child labor laws protect the worker’s health and safety. A violation of a child labor law not only jeopardizes the health and safety of the employee but can result in a fine of up to $10,000.
Due to little or no work experience, young workers may be oblivious to the hazards in their job and work environments. Teaching young employees how to detect and avoid risks and who they should alert when they see something dangerous is one of the most important things an employer can teach a young employee.
Encouraging young workers to ask questions may seem small, but it’s essential. If a young worker doesn’t know how to do something correctly, they should ask questions instead of attempting the task and risking injury to themselves or others. Leave room for open communication and direct them to the people who will give them the correct answer to their questions.
Young workers are a valuable part of many organizations. Keeping young employees safe and healthy ensures they grow their job skills and helps develop the workforce of the future. OSHA maintains a Young Workers webpage that contains detailed information on how to keep youth workers safe and prepared and employers informed.
Shelby Kimes is a Marketing Content Writer in the marketing department for NC State Industrial Expansion Solutions. She writes marketing content for various IES and media platforms to communicate the services and values of IES. She also writes the marketing material needed to alert existing and/or potential clients of any updates within IES. She previously interned with the marketing department at Greenville Parks and Recreation in North Carolina. Shelby graduated from East Carolina University with a Bachelor’s in Sports Studies and a Minor in Marketing/Business Administration.