Some workers get hurt on the job more than others — here's who and why

Diane Rohlman is associate dean for research, professor and endowed chair of rural safety and health at the University of Iowa . Think about your first job. Maybe it was delivering pizza, bagging groceries, busing tables or doing landscaping work. Did you get enough training to avoid potential injuries? Chances are, you didn’t – and your boss or supervisor just told you to get to work . Employing young people helps them in many ways. They can learn a trade, develop job skills, become more responsible and earn money. But there’s danger, too: Americans between 15 and 24 years old are up to 2.3 times more likely to get injured on the job than workers who are 25 and over. In 2021, 398 workers under 25 died after getting injured on the job. In my research about the unique occupational safety hazards young workers face , I’ve identified three common causes of this susceptibility to injury : their lack of experience, developing bodies and brains and reluctance to speak up. Physical and cognitive limitations The 19 million young people employed today make up approximately 13% of the U.S. workforce . Work is more dangerous for young people because they’ve simply had less time to become aware of many common workplace hazards than their older co-workers. And yet this problem isn’t typically addressed during onboarding: Even those who have been trained to do a specific job may not be taught ways to avoid common injuries. These include tendinitis from scooping ice cream for hours on end, burns from operating a deep fryer, lacerations from sharp objects and slips, trips and falls. It’s also important to remember that bodies and brains continue to develop well into adulthood – up to age 25. This can make some tasks riskier before that point […]

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