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Younger Workers Face Higher Injury, Death Rates

CDC calls on employers to make job settings safer

THURSDAY, April 22 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. employers need to do more to protect younger workers (ages 15-24) because they often perform jobs that put them at high risk for injury, a new federal study says.

Centers for Disease Prevention and Control researchers analyzed national data collected from 1998 to 2007 and found that 800,000 younger workers were injured and more than 500 were killed each year in work-related incidents.

During that 10-year period, 5,719 younger workers died from occupational injuries. The fatality rate for younger workers was 3.6 deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers (FTE), while the fatality rate was 4.4 deaths per 100,000 FTE for workers 25 and older. One FTE equals 2,000 hours worked per year.

Between 1998 and 2007, there were an estimated 7.9 million nonfatal injuries to younger workers treated in hospital emergency departments. The nonfatal injury rate among younger workers was 5 emergency department (ED)-treated injuries per 100 FTE, which was about two times higher than the rate among workers 25 and older, the study found.

While the rate of nonfatal injuries for younger workers declined 19 percent between 1998 and 2007, the decrease was not statistically significant, the researchers said.

They called on employers to provide younger workers with the training and protective equipment needed to perform their jobs safely.

The release of the study in the April 23 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report comes a week before Workers Memorial Day on April 28. It's held to recognize workers who died on the job or suffered work-related injuries or illnesses during the previous year.

In 2008, 5,071 U.S. workers died from occupational injuries. And work-related illnesses cause about 49,000 deaths each year, according to the CDC. In 2008, an estimated 3.7 million workers in private industry and 940,000 in state and local governments suffered a nonfatal occupational illness or injury. Of those workers, 40 percent to 50 percent were transferred, placed on work restriction, or took time away from work.

More information

Visit the CDC to learn more about workplace safety and health.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: April 23, 2010, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta

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