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Millions of teenagers face dangers in the fast food industry

Most people see the fast food industry as an entry-level job, a way to gain some experience in a relatively undemanding job that does not require an education or special training. That's why it is one of the first places that teenagers turn when it comes time to get some work experience on their resume. Reports indicate that there are about 2.5 million teens in the United States who work in restaurants.

Injury risks

That 2.5 million above does refer to the industry as a whole, not just fast food. When you look at injury risks, though, you find a very interesting trend: On-the-job injuries in this industry happen more often in fast-food joints.

For instance, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) said that around 44,800 teenagers who worked in restaurants got hurt badly enough that they wound up in the emergency room in just two years. This, of course, excludes more minor injuries that did not require emergency treatment.

Of the 44,800 cases, a full 63 percent happened in fast-food restaurants. Most of them sold pizza, hamburgers and similar fare.

There are two things to consider here. One is that fast-food restaurants are very common, meaning they may employ a high number of teen workers. Another is that people do not always look at working in the restaurant industry as an entry-level job, the way they do with fast food. This means that inexperienced teenagers may more often wind up in fast-food joints, while adults who see this as a career -- and who have far more experience -- may be in other types of restaurants.

Even breaking it down by type of food tells you a little bit more. The statistics show that places that primarily sold hamburgers led to 52.6 percent of the injuries. Places that sold pizza led to just 12.6 percent, while those that sold fish and/or chicken clocked in with a mere 11.7 percent.

Again, the total amount of establishments and workers may play a role here. Some of the biggest chain brands in the United States have made their name selling hamburgers. This means they have more locations, more workers, more teenagers and more situations in which those teens can get hurt.

Even so, this report shows that there are serious injury risks for young people working in the fast food industry, and you can't ignore that.

After an incident

Have you gotten hurt on the job, or has one of your children suffered serious injuries? You need to know what to do after the accident, what rights you have and what legal steps to take.

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