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Protecting Youth at Work: Health, Safety, and Development of Working Children and Adolescents in the United States
31.7% contusion, abrasion
6.7% closed head injury
31.7% observing farm work
68.3% working on farm
job each year (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1995).
Surveys of young workers themselves highlight the extent of the problem. In several recent surveys of working high-school students, estimates of the proportion of teens who report having been injured at work range from 17 percent to 50 percent. Between 7 percent and 16 percent of teens who have worked report having been injured at work seriously enough to seek medical care (Bowling, 1996; Dunn et al., 1998; Parker et al., 1994b). For example, in a survey of 450 teens at a large urban high school in Massachusetts, 67 percent reported that they either were working currently or had worked in the past: Of these, 35 percent reported having been injured at work; 10 percent were injured seriously enough to seek medical care (Massachusetts Department of Public Health, 1997).
The numbers alone indicate a basis for considerable concern. Moreover, because teens typically work part-time, often in seasonal jobs, the numbers of injuries suffered by adolescent workers translate into high injury rates per hour worked. This fact is often lost in national statistics that cannot provide rates by age that are adjusted for hours of work. Healthy People 2000 calls for the reduction of occupational injuries among adolescents to no more than 3.8 per 100 full-time workers (National Center for Health Statistics, 1996). The fact that this objective is substantially lower than the goal for adults—6 per 100 full-time workers—reflects a social policy deci-