You admired the initiative your teenage son showed when he got a summer job to save money for a car. He got up early, worked long hours, and put his paychecks in the bank. When you got a call from the fast food restaurant where he worked, however, your admiration turned to regret. Your son suffered a severe burn while cooking on the line and was being rushed to the emergency room. How did this happen? Why wasn’t he protected? Unfortunately, your son is not alone. Too many teenagers are injured on the job every day in the United States and not much is being done about it.
Teen Injuries by the Numbers
Teens are injured in the workplace twice as often as adults, mainly due to their inexperience with the tools and equipment they are using. In fact, each year:
- 230,000 teens are injured on the job
- 70,000 teens go to the emergency room for treatment of workplace injuries
- 70 teens die from work-related injuries
Most of the injuries suffered by teenage workers are burns, cuts, and sprains, but more serious injuries include broken bones, concussions, and amputations. The primary causes of these injuries include:
- Unsafe equipment
- Stressful conditions
- Inadequate safety training
New to the Workforce, Teens Are Vulnerable
While inexperience is one reason teens are often injured on the job, they are also vulnerable because they trust authority and are insecure about asking questions. Teens are more likely than adults to believe that an employer would not ask them to do anything that could be dangerous. They also feel that asking questions makes them appear incompetent and may put them in danger of being fired. Some employers take advantage of young workers’ insecurities by not providing proper training, not allowing them the opportunity to ask questions, and asking them to do jobs older workers don’t want to do because of the inherent danger.
Teens Have Workplace Rights, Too
A teen worker injured on the job has a right to file for worker’s compensation, but he must file the claim himself. It may be difficult for the teenager to tell his doctor or nurse that he was injured at work, but that is the first step in making a workers’ comp claim. If your teen needs help filing a claim, or you suspect his employer’s negligence may have led to the injury, contact our office to see how we can help. We know teens have rights, and we’re on your side to protect those rights.