To examine the risk of work injuries among young workers out of school compared to those working while still in school.
The 12,506 fifteen to twenty-four year old workers were part of a national survey that used a multi-staged, stratified sampling procedure. Respondents were divided into four groups based on current school activity (i.e., out of school vs. in school) and educational level (i.e., not having completed high school vs. completed high school). A multivariate logistic regression was conducted using a weighted bootstrap method for variance estimation on occurrence of a work injury that was medically attended.
Those young workers out of school and not having completed high school (8.2 per 100 full-time equivalents [FTEs]) and those out of school with a high school degree (5.1 per 100 FTEs) had higher unadjusted rates of work injuries compared to those workers in school not having completed high school (3.1 per 100 FTEs) or those in school with a high school degree (2.7 per 100 FTEs). These differences persisted in a multivariate regression with demographic and work-related covariates included. In addition, young people out of school reported a different work environment as evidenced by decreased social support at work.
The elevated injury risk of young workers out of school suggests that school-based work safety education programs need to be supplemented with other prevention strategies that improve the fit between these young workers' experience and capabilities and the work environment.