What's the matter with kids today? "Bye Bye Birdie" posed that question on Broadway and in film in the 1960s. The generation known as the silents might deserve credit for being the first to bemoan this character gap, but you can be certain that parents in every age bracket since have echoed the phrase.
It surely gets pulled out of the closet every summer when parents push kids to go out and find a seasonal job. However, many experts say there aren't as many job opportunities as there used to be for young people in the summer. As a result, many choose not to enter the workforce. At the same time, those that do work face increased risks of job injuries.
Teens face particular hazards
Federal safety officials say the risk to younger workers rises for a number of reasons. Some of the biggest can be traced to unsafe equipment, minimal training and lax supervision. By some estimates, the number of young workers needing emergency room care in 2015 was double what it was for workers who were 25 years and older.
Where the risks are
Retail jobs, whether they involve mall work or positions in grocery stores, present heightened risks of injury due to heavy lifting and slippery floors. If they work in the warehouse area, there can be dangers from equipment and machinery.
Working at the local burger place or other fast-food joint exposes employees to hot oil and griddles. Slippery floors from grease and mopping are common. These places can also be high value targets for violent crimes.
Janitorial work often involves heavy lifting, use of caustic chemicals and exposure to biological contamination from various sources.
As we discussed in a previous post, outdoor work poses unique dangers. If the hot weather doesn't get you, pesticides or machines could.
Mitigating the risk
Labor experts say most injuries are preventable. What it takes is dedication to solid training and supervision - especially where young workers are concerned. It's also important to be sure that work assignments are age appropriate. When injuries do occur, it's important for young people to have an advocate working with them to obtain all the compensation benefits they may be due.