Employers have the responsibility to provide a safe workplace, no matter what your age is. They must follow all OSHA safety and health standards to prevent injuries and illnesses on the job.
When hiring young workers, understand that this may be their first job or the first time operating equipment necessary for the job they have been hired for.
OSHA defines young workers as those new to the workforce, even up to age 24.
Watch the video from OSHA: Young Workers’ Rights.
Do you have young workers working for you?
You’re probably aware that under the OSH Act, employers must provide a workplace free of serious, recognized hazards and follow all occupational safety and health standards.
When it comes to young workers, employers need to:
- Comply with relevant federal and state child labor laws.
- Train young workers to recognize hazards and ensure they are competent in safe work practices.
- Implement a mentoring or buddy system, partnering them with someone who can answer questions and help them learn the ropes.
- Encourage them to ask questions about tasks or procedures.
- Be mindful of the best ways to communicate with young workers.
- Ensure equipment they operate is both legal and safe for them to use.
- Tell young workers what to do if they get hurt on the job.
As with their adult counterparts, young workers get injured with:
- Unsafe equipment
- Inadequate safety training
- Inadequate supervision
- Dangerous work that is illegal or inappropriate for those under 18
- Pressure to work faster
- Stressful conditions
Find more about the hazards in specific jobs.
In today’s work environment, many teens are not trained on how to identify hazardous situations.
Did you know … Approximately every 5 mins a teen 15-19 went to the emergency room for a workplace injury. NIOSH also gives us the following statistics.
- In 2019, there were about 19.6 million workers under the age of 24. These workers represented 12% of the total work force.
- In 2019, 409 workers under the age of 24 died from work-related injuries.
- In 2019, there were 34 deaths to workers under 18 years of age.
Resources for You
- On OSHA’s Young Workers website, you’ll find resources for employers, parents, educators and the teens themselves.
- Read or print this Fact Sheet, Your Job. Your Rights. Your Responsibilities.
- Understand what workplace violence is with this fact sheet.
- Take a look at the Campaign’s website, Keepteenworkerssafe.org
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published July 31, 2015. It has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.