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Tillman & Associates, Attorneys at Law

Why are younger workers sometimes at greater risk?

Many people believe that younger workers are less likely to be injured on the job or suffer a work-related illness than older workers. However, for a number of reasons, younger workers can actually be just as likely, if not more so, to become injured or ill.

Obviously, the fact that young people often see themselves as invincible can cause them to ignore potential dangers that older workers take seriously. However, younger people also take jobs while in school or shortly after graduation that may carry serious hazards and perhaps not include the kind of training, safety precautions and supervision that other jobs have.

Many young people work in the fast food and food service industries. Whether this means working the counter in a mall food court or busing tables at a restaurant, there are numerous hazards in this industry. These include hot equipment, sharp objects, slippery floors, lifting heavy items and even the potential for being harmed in a robbery.

Often, a first job for young people involves working at a store. These jobs can also involve being around slippery floors, lifting heavy items and the potential for being injured in a crime like a robbery.

Even more "mundane" jobs, like those in an office, can carry the risk of repetitive motion conditions and neck and back strain. Young people not used to sitting still for long hours may not have developed some of the practices that those who have done it for many years have in order to help protect themselves from these injuries.

Of course, janitorial work, outdoor jobs (such as those in landscaping and agriculture), industrial and construction work all involve potential hazards. Those who are new to the field or perhaps are only working at the job while attending school or during the summer may not have received the necessary training required to stay safe and/or may not be aware of the potential dangers around them.

Employers have a responsibility to help ensure the safety and health of those in their workplace, whether they are full-time or part-time employees. Further, there are child labor laws and other age restrictions that they must follow.

If you or your child has suffered a work-related illness or injury, it may be wise to seek legal guidance to determine whether the employer was at fault and make sure that proper compensation is being paid for that injury or illness.

Source: Occupational Safety & Health Administration, "Hazards," accessed Oct. 01, 2015

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