A catastrophic work injury is devastating and life-changing event. This is especially true when we talk about first-time or young workers that suffer an injury on the job. In fact, these are some of the most gut wrenching and challenging cases I handled during my career as a workers’ compensation attorney. Fatal work accident injury incidents are always emotionally difficult. However, they are significantly harder when they involve our younger workers.


Work injury among teen workers

According to studies, workers between the ages of 16 and 20 sustain more cases of injury at work than older workers. I previously wrote about some of these work injury examples. Consequently, Washington State employers that employ a higher percentage of young workers are likely to experience higher workplace injury rates. If you look around, young employees are part of the labor force in many common industries such as retail, hospitality, and the service industry. Moreover, we often see younger individuals taking jobs in health and fitness, childcare, and the automotive industry.


Some researchers suggest that young workers incur more work injury occurrences because they take more safety risks. Others attribute it to lack of experience and knowledge. Regardless of why it happens, we can all agree that improving safety and reducing the chances for workplace injury is an important goal.


How to reduce L&I claim incidents for young employees

Employers are always responsible for teaching their workers about work safety. However, additional resources such as the SAFEME app can help as well. For example, this application supplements employer safety education and targets younger workers. It aims to educate members of our younger labor force about how to work safely. The app is free. It’s available online and also for iPhone and Android.


The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) helped to fund, develop and support the SAFEME application. Furthermore, in recent news, the Washington Retail Association secured a grant to translate the SAFEME app to Spanish and provide 24 training lessons. This work safety app is quickly becoming a useful resource for both employers and workers. I applaud this initiative and wholeheartedly hope that it will lead to safer work practices for employees in Washington State.