Worker safety has increasingly been on the minds of employers over the past couple of decades – not because of any Dickensian softening of the heart, but because of the pressures of insurance premiums. When it comes to injuries in the workplace, few industries pose the percentage of risks associated with construction. In many cases, the worker who is injured or killed on the job is not even old enough to buy himself a drink.
Teenage workers, lacking the strength and experience of older employees, are prone to being injured or killed by way of falling, or having walls collapse on them, or being buried alive in ditches. They may not fully fathom safety guidelines, or may be wearing ill-fitting safety equipment that is designed for fully grown people. Heavy equipment also plays a significant role in jobsite fatalities (tractor or forklift rollovers, for example).
Unsafe at Any Age?
In rural areas across the nation, agricultural operations large and small are willing to employ youths to perform menial labor, such as corn de-tassling or harvesting produce. Even small family farms are susceptible to tragic accidents, as in the case of an Iowa boy in 2004 who was driving a four-wheel ATV, which flipped over and crushed him as he drove along a slight embankment; he was eight years old.
Electrocution is another common method by which workers of all ages are seriously injured or killed, and not because a teenager was working on anything electrical, but because he came in contact with a power line by way of scaffolding or another metal object. While states are loathe to heavily regulate the construction industry, a major player in any economy, more and more are putting age restrictions in place on jobsites, hoping to stem the tide of injuries afflicting minors.