Summer in New Jersey usually leads to extra work for many teenagers who get summer jobs, but that can also mean an increase in work injuries for young people. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, workers under the age of 24 made up 13 percent of the country’s workforce in 2015. In that year, 403 young workers died as a result of work-related injuries.
Twenty-four of those fatalities were workers under the age of 18. In the period from 1998 to 2007, almost 800,000 young workers were treated in hospitals for work injuries annually. The work-related injury treatment rate in emergency rooms for that period was estimated to be two times higher for the under-24 age group than for older workers.
There are many work hazards for young people in various industries. According to NIOSH, the leisure and hospitality industry is the biggest employer of teens age 15-17, followed by the retail industry. Teens working these jobs may be exposed to dangers such as slippery floors, hot equipment used for cooking food, heavy lifting, mechanical equipment and even violent crime. Even office jobs involve hazards, including repetitive motion injuries and ergonomic issues.
Because of this, both state child labor laws and federal child labor laws exist. Most states limit the types of work duties younger workers can perform and have laws that prohibit workers under the age of 18 from working with certain types of equipment or materials. Child labor laws also impose minimum age requirements for working in certain industries.
Many teens work part time or seasonal jobs, but workers’ compensation covers these workers as well as full time workers. In New Jersey, this could provide compensation for a workplace injury or work-related illness, which could include medical benefits or disability benefits.