Stats and Stories

Did you know that every 9 minutes, somewhere in the U.S., a teenager is injured seriously enough on the job to go to a hospital emergency room? The good news is that most of these injuries can be prevented if teachers, parents, employers, teens and others work together.

How many teens are working?

Over 1.5 million teens are working in the United States.

However, the number of youth working has been declining since 2007. (NIOSH)

employed youth
Where do teens work?

Forty-eight percent of all teens aged 15 to 17 work in the “leisure and hospitality” industry.

This includes restaurants and other food services jobs. Retail trade (working in stores) is the second largest industry where teens work. (NIOSH)

How many teens get injured or killed on the job?

Every year about 70 teens die from work injuries in the United States. (NIOSH)

  • In 2015, 403 workers less than 24 years of age died from work-related injuries, including 24 deaths of youth less than 18 years of age. (NIOSH)
  • The injury rate for young workers under age 25 is approximately two times higher than for workers 25 years and older, based on emergency room data.
Where do teens get injured?

Most of the injuries and illnesses happen in food services and drinking places.

Based on emergency room data, 38% of teens who were injured on the job worked in the leisure and hospitality sector.

The retail trade sector had the second highest number of reported injuries and illnesses among youth, with 21% of all injuries. (NIOSH)


The following stories are true stories.

We are sharing them to help prevent workplace injuries, by helping employers establish safer workplaces and policies, and helping young workers understand the importance of workplace safety and communication.

For additional stories, please visit the following websites:

17-year-old pizza delivery driver dies in motor vehicle crash

What Happened? 17-year-old Chris was working his first night as a pizza delivery driver for a small independent pizzeria. He arrived at work in his father’s car, a 4-door sedan. On his first delivery run, Chris delivered pizzas to three different addresses. Then, his boss gave him one more delivery run in the last hour of his shift. Chris had to travel less than a mile to deliver the pizza.

During the drive, a rainstorm with heavy winds began suddenly. As Chris was making the final turn to get to the delivery address, his car spun out of control and he hit a tree. He was not wearing a seatbelt. A police car was the first to arrive on scene followed by the emergency medical services. Chris was reportedly disorientated and showed signs of internal bleeding. He was quickly taking to a hospital where he died from his injuries at 11:30pm.

How could this have been prevented?
  • Drivers should always wear a seatbelt.
  • If driving, is a part of a job, training should discuss safe driving.
  • Keep vehicles in proper operating condition.
  • NOTE: Workers under age 17 are not allowed to drive as a regular part of their job; 17-year-olds can only drive in very limited circumstances.

Adapted from CDC 2013 bulletin.

16-year-old fry cook is seriously burned by pot of hot grease

What Happened? A 16-year-old crew cook worked at a fast food restaurant in Minnesota. During his shift he carried a large container of hot grease outside to filter. As he reached the door, the container slipped out of his hands and the lid popped off. The hot grease spilled over much of his body and the youth was severely burned.
How could this have been prevented?
  • Allow hot grease to cool before you move it
  • Have co-workers help each other when moving heavy or large objects
  • Use appropriate gloves and other equipment to protect the skin

Adapted from a news article.

14-year-old left permanently disabled from powered equipment

What Happened? Fourteen-year-old Mallory got her first job at an ice packing business.
One evening she was bagging ice and realized that there was not enough ice going into the bags. Mallory went to the back of the machine to get more ice. As she was filling it up, the bag slipped out of her hands and fell into the machine. She reached in to grab the bag and both her arms were pulled into the machine’s augur (a circular drill that pulls the ice in). It took 55 minutes for the paramedics to figure out how to release Mallory. She was finally freed from the machine but suffered severe injuries to her arms and hands. Mallory was flown to the nearest trauma center.Since her accident, Mallory has undergone 6 surgeries and skin grafts to repair bone, muscle, nerves and blood vessels in her arms. Although she has learned to use her hands again after extensive physical surgery, Mallory will never be the same. She lost a significant amount of muscle mass in her arms and can no longer do the activities she loves like playing the flute and swimming.
How could this have been prevented?
  • There should have been a metal guard on the machine to prevent access to the augur.
  • Employers and teen workers should be aware of the laws that protect teens from doing dangerous work. Because she was under age 18, Mallory was too young to operate the machine that caused her injuries.

Adapted from NIOSH Talking Safety Report.

17-year-old falls from ladder in grocery store

What Happened? A 17-year-old male worked at a grocery store as a courtesy clerk. He had decided to put a ladder away (not part of his normal job) when he fell and hit the back of his head on the concrete floor. The usual procedure for storage of the ladder was to place it against the opening on the second floor, and then to climb the back stairway and pull the ladder up from above. The victim was last seen climbing the ladder to the second floor.

Co-workers and the victim’s supervisor found the ladder leaning against the wall rather than pulled open (A-Frame) as the ladder had been designed for use. The ladder was also found in a position that made it appear as if the ladder had slid across the wall while the victim was still on it. There were no safety devices placed on the ladder to keep it from sliding. The supervisor was informed about the fall and 911 was called. The youth was stabilized and transported to a local hospital. He died several days later.

How could this have been prevented?
  • Employers should develop and implement a fall protection program in the workplace, including ladder safety training.
  • Avoid an unequal balance of weight on the ladder. Do not apply more weight to the ladder than it can support.
  • Use a guardrail or safety net system.
  • Only use ladders that comply with OSHA standards.

Adapted from NIOSH Face Report.