Objective: To determine the number, distribution, determinants, and health consequences of occupational injuries among working adolescents in New York State.
Design: A retrospective, population-based analysis of New York State workers' compensation award data and the Annual Demographic File, a supplement to the US Bureau of the Census Current Population Survey.
Participants: Adolescents, aged 14 through 17 years, who received workers' compensation awards for occupational injury from 1980 through 1987.
Main outcome measures: (1) Numbers, types, and rates of occupational injuries in working adolescents by age, sex, industry, and occupation; (2) health consequences of injury, especially disability and death; and (3) secular trends in injury award rates.
Results: A total of 9656 adolescents were compensated for occupational injuries; 4201 compensated adolescents (43.5%) suffered permanent disability; 31 working adolescents died. The annual mean rate of compensated occupational injury was 28.2 per 10,000 adolescent workers. Rates were higher in males than in females and ranged from 8.2 per 10,000 in 14-year-old male workers to 46.8 per 10,000 in 17-year-old male workers. Highest rates by industry were seen in manufacturing (49.0/10,000 adolescent workers) and agriculture (46.2/10,000). Unskilled labor was the most dangerous occupation (52.3/10,000).
Conclusion: Occupational injuries are a substantial and underrecognized contributor to the continuing epidemic of injury among adolescents.