Protecting Young Workers

Most youth find paid employment, either during the summer or year-round, before graduating from high school. Young workers, ages 14-24, are at risk of workplace injury because of their inexperience at work and their physical, cognitive, and emotional developmental characteristics. They often hesitate to ask questions and may fail to recognize workplace dangers. OSHA has made young workers a priority within the agency and is committed to identifying ways to improve young worker safety and health. OSHA’s Young Worker Initiative addresses this group’s safety and health through a multi-pronged outreach program.

Through dramatic recreations of workplace accidents and one-on-one discussions with the young workers involved and their parents, the video above tells four stories of lives forever altered. All were still in their teens when they were injured on the job; none were properly trained to deal with hazards and risks at their workplaces. In emotional interviews, their parents speak of the need for everyone to make sure young people know how to be safe on the job.

You Have Rights at Work

You have the right to:

  • Work in a safe place.
  • Receive safety and health training in a language that you understand.
  • Ask questions if you don’t understand instructions or if something seems unsafe.
  • Use and be trained on required safety gear, such as hard hats, goggles and ear plugs.
  • Exercise your workplace safety rights without retaliation or discrimination.
  • File a confidential complaint with OSHA if you believe there is a serious hazard or that your employer is not following OSHA standards.

Your Employer Has Responsibilities

Your employer must:

  • Provide a workplace free from serious recognized hazards and follow all OSHA safety and health standards.
  • Provide training about workplace hazards and required safety gear.
  • Tell you where to get answers to your safety or health questions.
  • Tell you what to do if you get hurt on the job.

Ways to Stay Safe on the Job

To help protect yourself, you can:

  • Report unsafe conditions to a shift/team leader or supervisor.
  • Wear any safety gear required to do your job.
  • Follow the safety rules.
  • Ask questions.
  • Ask for help if needed.