Work-related injury underreporting among young workers: prevalence, gender differences, and explanations for underreporting

J Safety Res. 2014 Sep;50:67-73. doi: 10.1016/j.jsr.2014.04.001. Epub 2014 Apr 18.


Introduction: Although notifying an employer of a lost-time work-related injury is a legal requirement in many jurisdictions, employees frequently do not report such injuries.

Method: Based on data from 21,345 young part-time Canadian workers (55% male), we found that 21% of respondents had experienced at least one lost-time injury, with about half reporting the injury to an employer and a doctor.

Results: Respondents provided 10 reasons for avoiding reporting lost-time injuries, with perceived low severity of the injury, negative reactions of others, and ambiguity about whether work caused the injury as the most common ones. Additional analysis of these categories revealed that young males cited concern about their self-identity as a reason for not reporting an injury more often than young females did. We discuss the findings in terms of implications for management practice (i.e., educating young workers about accurate injury reporting) and public policy.

Practical applications: Targeted campaigns should be developed for young workers, especially young male workers, who are less likely to report injuries than young female workers, to understand the importance of and to encourage injury reporting.

Keywords: Underreporting; Workplace injuries; Young workers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Accidents, Occupational / prevention & control
  • Accidents, Occupational / psychology
  • Accidents, Occupational / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mandatory Reporting*
  • Occupational Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Injuries / prevention & control
  • Occupational Injuries / psychology
  • Perception
  • Prevalence
  • Safety Management / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Safety Management / statistics & numerical data*
  • Self Concept
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sick Leave / statistics & numerical data
  • Trauma Severity Indices
  • Young Adult