Firm-Wide blog

Summer Jobs Put Teen Workers at Risk

By Burg Simpson
August 9, 2018
4 min read

Despite a historically low unemployment rate – hovering at 3.8 percent – teenagers have not exactly been racing to get summer jobs lately.

According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., teen hiring fell nearly 4 percent to 1.28 million jobs gained last summer. Employment among teen workers – ages 16 to 19 – peaked at 190,000 in July, the lowest total on record for that month and more than 61 percent lower than the 492,000 job gains in July 2016.

“Teen employment has been falling steadily since the 1990s and especially since the recession. The teen participation rate in the summer months has hovered near 40 percent since 2009, well below the highs of the 70s, 80s, and 90s at near or over 60 percent,” explained Andrew Challenger, vice president at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, in a press release.

Because of this trend, and the stagnant retail employment market, the Chicago-based recruiting firm expect this year’s number to be no better. Instead, analysts at the firm expect teenagers this summer to focus instead on their education, extracurricular activities, and their family obligations.

But the teens who do decide to join the workforce face the same hazards as anyone else – often without the same level of training as traditional, full-time employees. If your teenager has suffered a serious injury on the job, they still have the same rights as anyone else. A workers’ compensation attorney can help protect those rights.

What are Teenage Workplace Hazards?

Even with this drop in interest for summertime employment, teenagers still flood the job market in the summer months. In fact, more than 80 percent of teenagers in the United States report having worked at some point during their high school careers.

According to claims data collected by Pinnacol Assurance, Colorado’s largest workers’ compensation insurer, the most common injuries that “workers under 20” encounter include:

  • Contusion
  • Laceration
  • Sprain
  • Strain
  • Puncture

Employees under the age of 25 are more than twice as likely to suffer an injury on the job that sends them to the emergency room than anyone else.

Pinnacol also reports that the most common causes of teenage workplace accidents include:

  • Handling sharp objects and/or equipment without proper training and/or safety gear
  • Lifting too much without help, or not using the right tool, such as a dolly
  • Improper footwear, wet or slippery floors, rushing.
  • Carrying hot food and/or liquids
  • Prolonged standing
  • Exposure to heat and/or sun
  • Driving vehicles or operating equipment without proper training

Keeping Younger Workers Safe

To help prevent teenagers from getting hurt at work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration advises employers to:

  • Provide a workplace free from serious recognized hazards and follow all OSHA safety and health standards
  • Find and correct safety and health hazards
  • Inform employees about hazards in the workplace and train them about applicable OSHA standards in a language they understand
  • Provide safety training on workplace hazards
  • Provide the required personal protective equipment and pay for most types of required PPE

Special Treatment for Workers Under 21

If an injury occurs that results in permanent impairment workers under 21 can be placed into a special category for determining permanent impairment. The idea behind this is that they are probably working for a lower wage, and they have their entire work lives ahead of them.  For this reason if you are under 21 or you are looking for information for an injured family member under 21 it is important to contact an experienced workers compensation attorney like those at BurgSimpson.

Teenagers are known for their unwavering belief that they are invulnerable. They are young, healthy and full of energy, and can’t imagine getting injured on the job. Throw in a lack of proper training and you have a recipe for disaster. If your teenage son or daughter has been hurt in an accident at work this summer, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a Colorado workers’ compensation attorney at Burg Simpson by calling 303-792-5595. You can also complete our Free Case Evaluation form today.

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