Young Workers Rights and Safety

As an employee, you have rights on the job and have a right to a safe workplace. Likewise, your employer has the responsibility to provide a safe workplace. Employers must follow all OSHA safety and health standards to prevent you from being injured or becoming ill on the job.

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Image Source: Shutterstock

 

If you are under age 18, there may be limits on the hours you work, the jobs you do, and the equipment you use.  Do a couple things to understand more:

  • Learn about the federal and state wage and hour child labor laws that apply to you.
  • Use the hashtag #MySafeSummerJob on social media to learn more about what your employer must do to protect you at work.

#MySafeSummerJob

OSHA has created a social media campaign for young workers called #MySafeSummerJob. This is a focused effort to spread awareness to youth, educators, parents, supervisors, and employers about the importance of workplace safety. For more information about the #MySafeSummer campaign, visit mysafesummerjob.org. Also, be sure to follow on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn, as well as check the blog for updates about keeping young workers safe!

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You Have Rights at Work

OSHA’s Safe Work for Young Workers website states:

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.

Video: OSHA – Young Worker’s Rights

Young Worker Hazards

Young workers get injured or sick on the job for many reasons, including:

  • Unsafe equipment
  • Inadequate safety training
  • Inadequate supervision
  • Dangerous work that is illegal or inappropriate for youth under 18
  • Pressure to work faster
  • Stressful conditions

Workplace hazards associated with specific jobs are another major cause of injuries and illnesses. Employers must work to reduce or minimize hazards in the workplace and train employees how to work safely on the job.

Workplace hazards include:

A. Retail/Grocery Stores/Convenience Stores

  • Equipment and machinery
  • Heavy lifting
  • Violent crime
  • Repetitive hand motion
  • Slippery floors

B. Food Service/Fast Food

  • Sharp objects
  • Hot cooking equipment
  • Slippery floors
  • Electricity
  • Heavy lifting
  • Violent crime

C. Janitorial/Cleanup/ Maintenance

  • Hazardous chemicals
  • Slippery floors
  • Heavy lifting
  • Blood on discarded needles
  • Electricity
  • Vehicles

D. Office/Clerical

  • Repetitive hand motion (computer work)
  • Back and neck strain
  • Stress

E. Outdoor Work

  • Exposure to the sun
  • Heat
  • Landscaping
  • Pesticides and chemicals
  • Machinery and vehicles
  • Electricity
  • Heavy lifting
  • Noise

F. Construction

  • Falls
  • Machines and tools
  • Hazardous materials
  • Confined space
  • Electricity
  • Struck-by
  • Vehicle back-over
  • Noise

G. General Industry

  • Moving equipment
  • Hot equipment
  • Hazardous chemicals
  • Electricity
  • Heat
  • Noise

H. Agriculture

  • Machinery
  • Struck-by
  • Falls
  • Electricity
  • Confined space
  • Hazardous chemicals
  • Organic dust (e.g., grain)
  • Heat

OSHA Is Here to Help

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the agency of the Department of Labor (DOL) that protects workers from dangers on the job that can cause injuries or illnesses. OSHA is here to help you.

Call OSHA on the toll-free number: 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) or TTY 1-877-889-5627 to get answers to your questions, or to ask OSHA to inspect your workplace if you think there is a serious hazard.

You can also submit a question online. To file a confidential complaint about workplace hazards, visit the How to File a Complaint page for instructions.

OSHA Young Worker Resources

Helpful Videos: