Preventing Teen Injuries

Preventing Teen Injuries

Employment data show the hospitality and retail industries, including restaurants, employ 50 percent of teenagers, which contributes to the high incidence of injury to teens.

In 2000, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) and the Washington Hospitality Association set a goal to reduce teen injuries in restaurants. In response to the challenge, L&I and Washington Hospitality Association teamed up to strategize on prevention methods that helped reduce teen injuries in restaurants.

The team met with a Teen Focus Group and reached five conclusions:

  1. The number one concern of teens was slips and falls due to wet floors
  2. Supervisors play a huge role in preventing injuries. Safety training and constant reminders were significant factors in getting teens to focus on safety. 3. Posters rarely worked unless short and to the point.
  3. Posters rarely worked unless short and to the point.
  4. Speed was a factor that compromised safety; incentives to work quickly prevented teens from focusing on safety.
  5. Teens are not quite ready to understand all the responsibilities of the workplace.
  6. For more information or to obtain training materials, go to


Teen Injury Reduction Plan

Although not required, the strategies listed below are excellent for reducing injuries and workers’ compensation claims. Details of each of these strategies can be found at the L&I web page for Restaurant Safety materials, RestaurantProgram/Resources:

  • Adopt a model shoe policy
  • Send supervisors to restaurant industry safety training provided to you by L&I (Contact L&I Small Business Liaison Office at 800.987.0145 or email
  • Conduct monthly safety meeting with teen workers
  • Address Best Practices safety tips for common hazards with teen workers
  • Complete the safety orientation checklist for new workers
  • Be aware of the prohibited practices and restrictions for the hours of work for teens under the age of 18
  • Place “Rated R” stickers on prohibited equipment to indicate that anyone under 18 is restricted


Facts about teen injuries

  • Typically, most teen injuries occur in the first six months of employment
  • Slips, falls, cuts and burns account for more than 85 percent of teen restaurant injuries


If you have any further questions about this topic or others, see the Department of Labor & Industries’ Help for Small Business page at


Rev. 12/31/17


This article is an excerpt from the Handbook for Excellent Restaurant Operations (HERO), published by the Washington Hospitality Association.  Want a hard copy of the whole manual?  It’s one of the many benefits of becoming a member!  Find out more about joining the Washington Hospitality Association here.

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Categories: HERO