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Young worker injuries

Parents of Kentucky teenagers often feel positive about their children entering the work world. Those same entry-level positions that provide spending money and college savings can also result in a higher risk of workplace injury and fatality than adults in the field. There are some common hazards young people face and measures employers can take to reduce the risk.

The most common sectors for teens to get their first jobs are in retail and the leisure and hospitality industry. OSHA's lists of common hazards for food service, retail outlets and grocery stores covers many of these jobs. Teens in food service are most likely to suffer workplace injury caused by slippery floors, violent crime and heated cooking equipment. When cleaning is part of the position, teens may also run the risk of heavy lifting injury, bio-contamination and exposure to chemicals.

Employers and parents alike have an interest in preventing workplace injury claims by teen employees. Kentucky law prohibits certain types of work for all minors with additional restrictions for those 16 and under. A major deciding factor in the risk of worker injury is employer-provided training.

There were 24 workplace fatalities for those younger than 18 in 2015 and an annual average of 795,000 cases of treated workplace injuries to young workers between 1998 and 2007. The risk of injury is real, and it can mean hospitalization, disability, medical expenses and other damages. Teen employees may have access to workers' compensation the same as their adult co-workers, but this can depend on their formal designation. For families with injured teen workers, an attorney might be able to discuss their available remedies.

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