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Empowering younger workers can help prevent workplace injuries

Sunday, May 28, 2017

A large number of young workers between ages 15 and 24 join the workforce in Long Island and New York every year. They are the ones who typically replace older workers who leave the workforce every year. Unfortunately, many of these young workers suffer catastrophic or even fatal injuries due to inexperience and the lack of adequate training. Safety professionals suggest employers engage young workers in the development and execution of safety protocols.

Many teenagers enter the job market as laborers in food service, retail and hospitality industries in which business owners provide inadequate training because the staff turnover is high. Other industries that attract young workers include agriculture, construction, transportation and mining — all of them have high injury rates.

Why are young workers more vulnerable?

If you are a young worker who entered the workforce with minimal to no experience, you may not be aware that your cognitive and physical development is not yet complete. Personal protective equipment must be a proper fit for each individual worker, and for some of those who are still growing, the right size may not be available. Ill-fitting hard hats, fall harnesses and other PPE will not provide the necessary protection. Tasks that require high levels of physical strength and motor skills may be tough to complete without suffering on-the-job injuries.

Age restrictions

Most states have restrictions on the hours teenagers may work per day, and this can prohibit them from performing certain tasks. Here are some jobs that you may only do after you have turned 18 years old:

  • Working with circular saws
  • Working with powered meat slicers
  • Working in environments in which hazardous substances or radioactive materials are present
  • Working in the logging industry
  • Operating forklifts and other motorized lifting trucks
  • Operating wrecking balls

Empower young workers

Some safety authorities say supervisors must always set good examples by following the prescribed safety regulations. They believe that young workers who are encouraged to participate in safety programs develop critical-thinking skills along with problem-solving abilities. The advantages of empowering employees are two-fold — they will be less likely to suffer injuries, and other young workers may follow their examples and learn similar skills.

There is help and support readily available for you

Sadly, there are some companies that do not follow the regulations and safety protocols mentioned above, which results in far too many work-related injuries. If you are a younger worker who was a victim of a workplace injury, you most likely have many questions about your rights. You are entitled to seek the guidance and support of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can help you navigate a benefits claim to cover your medical expenses and lost wages.

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