Background: To characterize work-related injuries and illnesses in minors.
Methods: We analyzed Washington State workers' compensation claims from 1988 through 1991.
Results: There were 17,800 claims among adolescents from age 11 through 17 years accepted in the 4-year period, including three occupational fatalities, 22 amputations, and 464 fractures; 89% of all injuries occurred among the 16- and 17-year-olds. Claims were most frequent in restaurants, food stores, service industry, other retail and wholesale trade, and agriculture. Washington State census data were used for denominator in calculating injury rates for adolescents and adults. The crude injury rate for 16- and 17-year-olds employed at the time of the census was similar to that seen among adults (9.0 vs 10.4 per 100 workers), despite that minors work fewer hours per year. The rate among boys was almost twice that seen among girls (11.7 vs. 6.4 per 100 workers). Highest rates, per 100 workers, were in public administration (27.0), construction (21.1), agriculture (11.4), and restaurants (11.0). Using census data for those working anytime over the course of the year and adjusted for the number of hours worked, the injury rate for 16- and 17-year-olds was 19.4/100 full time equivalents compared with 10.6 of 100 full-time equivalents for adults. Most injuries were lacerations, sprains and strains, contusions, and burns.
Conclusions: Public health policy and injury prevention strategies for working adolescents should be developed and implemented.