The younger demographic in the workplace is facing a greater risk for injury than their (older) peers. Is it due to inexperience, overconfidence – or something much more than that altogether?
Let’s dive in and find out!
The Stats Facing Young Workers Today
One of the biggest risks young workers face is not yet having the awareness to understand the full scope of a high risk work environment, and what steps to take to remove themselves from that risk.
According to research by a 2015 Health and Safety Executive Survey, 16-19 year old males have a 37% higher risk of injury than older workers.
This risk goes up significantly when they enter their mid-2o’s, with a 70% chance of injury between the ages of 20-24!
Here are some more facts to consider about this high risk demographic:
- Over 50% of all accidents involving younger workers occur during their first six months on the job
- Youth workers (younger than 21) had the highest lost time and disabling injury in 2015-2017
- Males between the ages of 15-24 are more likely to get injured on the job than any other worker!
During the first month of employment, workers are four times as likely to have an accident. The big problem here is that young workers (especially in an industry like construction), are frequently moved from job site to job site.
Without good communication, they become a reoccurring ‘new worker’, facing the risks new workers typically face (more frequent injuries due to inadequate training and a lack of real-life practice).
David Michael, OSHA administrator confirms the ‘new worker’ mentality is common.
“We have known for decades that workers – whether they start a new job or simply on a new job site – are at an increased risk of injury. They aren’t often trained in the potential hazards at that new job site and the measures they can take to protect themselves.”
Why are Young Employees So Accident Prone?
It’s not just young workers that are at risk, of course. But, the younger demographic may experience a greater rate of injury as compared to their older, more experienced counterpart, due to:
- Being distracted by other things on their mind
- Feeling invincible
- Lack of preparation at work
- Working above their skill level/ability
- Lack of work experience and training
- Lack of understanding their rights, or confidence doing their job
- Unclear of the questions to ask in order to stay safe.
3 Solutions to Prevent Injury
Here are three steps you can act on today for a safer workplace, and greater overall health for the young employees making up your workforce:
1. Get Prepared. As an employer, it’s important to know what risks you’re up against. Actively stay on top of industry trends so you can effectively mange your organization and demographics most common type of workplace injury. For example, transportation and warehousing had the greatest increase in failed drug tests while strains and sprains were the most common type of injury across all industries.
2. Be Communicative. Toolbox talks are a great way to strengthen communication with your workers. Common injuries like back, neck, knee or ankle falls can be prevented when you offer valuable (even life-saving!) advice for simple movement techniques. Sometimes, the simplest steps to safety can lead to the greatest impact, such as:
- Assess hazards before each shift
- Encourage workers to report all hazards to their supervisor
- Know what to do in an emergency
- Report incidents without repercussions
3. Be Proactive. The easiest way for employers to avoid injury, work comp claims and hiring the wrong workers are by pre-employment testing!
A Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) determines an employee’s ability or capacity to do the work activities of the position for which they are being hired to do. From background screens to functional capacity evaluations, an occupational health program can schedule appropriate testing, oversee the process and provide employee testing results to the employer.