Young Workers in Danger


May 21, 2015 / Personal Injury

Youth at work may appear vigorous and strong, even invincible. We may even lament our own restrictions that occur with increasing age. Yet that same vibrant quality of youth can be a hindrance when it comes to occupational safety.

Would you be surprised to learn that young workers, meaning those under 25, have higher occupational injury rates than older workers? It’s true.

For workers under the age of 24 during 2012, there were 375 deaths, with 29 of them suffered by workers less than 18 years old. And during the years 1998 to 2007, younger workers were the victims of roughly twice as many nonfatal workplace injuries each year as workers 25 and over.

Advantage: Maturity

Being young is not always an advantage in the workplace. A person’s youth can work against them in several ways:

  • Their still-growing bodies are more vulnerable to toxins, noise, and other hazards.
  • Their youthfulness can mean poor judgment, and lead to taking risks that they shouldn’t, resulting in injury.
  • Their lack of experience, and perhaps their desire to impress a manager, may cause them to take on more than they can handle, either physically and mentally.
  • Their general inexperience with work environments can mean that they don’t know proper safety procedures.
  • Such inexperience can also mean they can be taken advantage of, or even intimidated by employers into not reporting injuries.

Being older can be useful in keeping us safer while on the job. Worker experience generally leads to improved judgment and reduced risk-taking.

Young Workers’ Jobs: Deceptively Hazardous

In 2013, 13 percent of the workforce—18.1 million workers—were classified as young workers. That’s a lot of youth in the workforce. And many of these young people take jobs in restaurants or retail. Such jobs don’t seem dangerous, do they? However, from 1998 to 2002, 40 teens under 17 died because of occupational hazards. Half of the deaths occurred in retail, and half occurred in restaurants [source].

One more point to ponder: young workers are overrepresented in hazardous occupations such as construction, mining, and agriculture, with correspondingly higher injury and fatality rates.

Regulations Protecting Young Workers

The federal government and all states have child labor laws regulating many aspects of young workers’ jobs. In Indiana, some of the regulations include:

  • All teens must have a work permit if they are ages 14 through 17, unless they have graduated from high school or possess a GED diploma.
  • During the school year, those 14 and 15 are allowed to work up to three hours per day, for a maximum of 18 hours per week. Teens 16 and 17 may work up to 8 hours per day, for a total of 30 hours per week.
  • Indiana employers must provide defined break periods for those under 18 if they are scheduled to work six or more hours in a row. Some occupations are exempted from this requirement.

Additionally, Indiana law forbids minors (those under 18) from working in some occupations, such as mining, logging, around radioactive materials or explosives, with power machinery, and so on. Those under 16 are also forbidden from working in manufacturing, construction, and warehouses.

Under Indiana child labor laws, any employer that violates the statutes may be charged with civil penalties.

Were You or a Loved One Injured On the Job? Let Us Put Our Resources to Work for You

If your child or a loved one was injured while on the job, and you would like to explore your options, contact Mike Stephenson as soon as possible if you are considering an occupational injury lawsuit. We have been successfully litigating workplace injury cases in Indiana since 1981.

At Stephenson Rife, we believe justice matters. We will put our time, energy and resources to work for you to achieve justice in your case. A free consultation is just a phone call away – dial 1-317-825-5200.

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