WorkSafeBC has listed the most common tasks that cause young workers to get hurt. These tend to be common tasks for young workers and they are present in a great many occupations and industries. While employers should be aware of the hazards inherent in any workplace tasks performed by young workers, perhaps they should take extra care with these.
This danger is present in nearly all workplaces, on some level. Lifting injuries account for roughly 950 claims per year for young workers, with most sustained in the shipping and receiving industries, the retail industry and just about any industry in which lifting large objects, such as boxes, crates, bags, buckets, pallets, lumber, and structural metal materials is a major part of the job.
Working at Height
Any young worker who works on projects that involve heights are at risk of falls and any fall can cause serious injury of many types. While sprains and strains, torn muscles and ligaments are common, one in every seven injuries from height are bone fractures. Some falls cause brain injury or death. They can be injured when falling from a static object, but they are often injured when they jump from one level to another. Young workers should always wear fall protection and they should receive thorough training when working on ladders or from stairs, scaffolds or platforms. Injuries related to height result in about 900 claims per year and the injuries can have a profound impact on workers, sometimes requiring long hospitalization or rehabilitation.
Working with Knives and Slicers
Sometimes a knife slips or is mishandled, resulting in serious cuts or lacerations, but using machines with blades or sharp objects also results in a great many injuries. Young workers who work in supermarkets and restaurants are particularly at risk for these types of injuries. Using knives results in about 525 young worker claims every year. Most injuries are cuts that heal, but one in every 130 result in the amputation of a finger. Injuries caused by food slicers alone result in 150 claims per year. While 80 per cent of the injuries are simple lacerations, one in 80 results in the loss of a finger.
Working with Hot Substances and Objects
These types of injuries are all too common for young workers who work as cooks, waiters, and food preparers, who are always at serious risk of burns and scalds, either from hot food, fats, oils or other liquids or from hot pots, pans or trays. The severity of the burns varies widely, with one out of every 40 claims being a third-degree burn. Injuries from hot substances result in around 350 claims per year and they often result in hospitalization and cosmetic surgery.
Operating Mobile Equipment or Motor Vehicles
Young workers in any industry may be asked to work with mobile equipment or motor vehicles, which can create a serious risk of injury. Many of the 250 claims from young workers every year come due to young workers acting as truck drivers, couriers, and material handlers. The injuries range in severity from minor scrapes to broken bones or worse. Many motor vehicle accidents involve truck drivers, couriers, delivery drivers, and material handlers. Injuries range in severity from minor sprains, strains, and tears to multiple fractures or even death. One in 10 claims is a fracture. These serious injuries can have a profound impact on the worker, sometimes requiring hospitalization and rehabilitation.
Working Around Running Machinery and Equipment
In a number of industries that employs machinery and conveyors, especially the construction and manufacturing industries, young workers are at significant risk of serious injury if they as a result of getting “caught in” running equipment or machinery. A number of possible injuries are possible, but lacerations and fractures are most common, with one out of every eight injuries resulting in amputation. In all, these types of injuries result in 125 claims each year.