Gregory H. Wassall
Glenn L. Pierce, Gordon S. Smith
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Department or Academic Unit
School of Arts & Sciences, Department of Law, Policy and Society
health sciences, occupational health and safety, sociology, adolescent, compliance, injury, inspection, risk, worker
Law and Society
Work-related injury experienced by young workers has drawn much attention in our society where studies show that such injuries are often under-reported. Adolescent and young adult workers are more vulnerable to injury due to inexperience as workers; lack of job safety awareness; or even employer exploitation. Prevalence of work related injury is influenced by a number of sociodemographic factors that in turn influence how adolescent and young workers, as well as society as a whole, perceive their risk for injury in the work place.
Vocational and technical training obtained outside of regular schoolwork and state level enforcement of labor safety laws are two key predictors of risk for work related injury. Neither of these factors has been thoroughly investigated to determine any effect on the outcome of work-related injury for young workers. This study addresses this gap by utilizing a population based survey, National Longitudinal Study of Youth (NLSY79), to explore a wide range of sociodemographic attributes experienced by a cohort of working teenagers and young adults as they transitioned over a ten year period (1979 to 1989) towards being adult workers.
Multivariate analyses were done to calculate odds ratios indicating the likelihood for specific individual attributes and job characteristics to be associated with the reporting of a work related injury in 1989 by survey respondents (age 24 to 32) while controlling for relevant covariates. A separate measurement was done to correlate the state level strictness of enforcement of labor safety laws as derived from BLS data on regulatory agency inspections and Census Bureau data for work place establishments in individual states.
For this study, no effect was found for vocational or technical training on work injury risk where the analysis indicated no significant difference between young adult workers who obtained training from those reporting no training. However, the level of state enforcement compliance of labor safety laws, measured as the time safety inspectors would need to inspect all work establishments in a state, did have a significant effect on the risk of work related injury. In states that took the longest time to inspect (least strict) young adult workers had almost 1.4 times the risk of injury as those working in states reporting shorter times to inspect (more strict).
The results of this study suggest that additional research should be done to differentiate safety awareness training for young workers from all other vocational and technical training to determine if there is an effect on injury prevention. More importantly, public policy at the national level on work injury prevention needs to recognize that state level implementation of occupational safety compliance programs varies widely and those states conducting less frequent work place inspections have higher risk for injury than those states conducting more frequent inspections.
John Michael Price
Price, John Michael, "Risk assessment in the work environment of adolescents and their attainment of occupational injury or illness as young adult workers" (2010). Law, Policy, and Society Dissertations. Paper 18. http://hdl.handle.net/2047/d20000266
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