NIOSH: Young Workers Disproportionately Affected by Nonfatal Occupational Injuries
Young workers aged 15–24 years experience a disproportionately high rate of occupational injury compared with adult workers aged 25–44 years, according to an analysis published in CDC’s
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
(MMWR). By analyzing data from the occupational supplement to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance for 2012–2018, and from the 2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, NIOSH researchers found that an estimated 3.2 million nonfatal occupational injuries to young workers were treated in hospital emergency departments during 2012–2018. The highest injury rate, 404 per 10,000 full-time equivalent workers, occurred among those aged 18–19 years. Annual rates of work-related injuries treated in emergency departments for workers aged 15–24 ranged from 1.2 to 2.3 times higher than for adults aged 25–44 years. The leading cause of occupational injuries treated in emergency departments among all age groups examined was contact with objects and equipment. However, the most common type of injuries reported among workers under the age of 25 were lacerations and punctures, while sprains and strains were the most common injuries among workers aged 25–44 years. Approximately half of the youngest workers (aged 15–17 years) with a reported injury were employed in the leisure and hospitality industry, with most injuries occurring in the accommodation and food services subsector. “The disparity in the number of injuries among young workers has been reported in other countries,” the report states. “Young workers might be less likely to recognize workplace hazards, voice safety concerns, and be aware of their legal protections.” The MMWR report stresses that a comprehensive public health strategy, which could include preventative interventions targeting leisure and hospitality employers, and involve parents, healthcare providers, and other stakeholders, is needed to protect young workers. For more information, view the MMWR report.