The United States has more of its youth in the workforce than any other developed country in the world. By the year 2010, 17.8 million youths aged 16-19 will work, up from 16 million in 2000, according to government forecasts. Young workers suffer a disproportionate share of injuries and fatalities, especially in the first year on the job. In 2006, 30 youths under 18 died from work-related injuries. More than 4 million teens leave their classrooms each summer to find work, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) estimated that 54,800 work-related injuries and illnesses among youth less than 18 years of age were treated in hospital emergency departments. Because only one-third of work-related injuries are seen in emergency departments, it is likely the actual number of such injuries among working youth is much higher, approximately 160,000 injuries and illnesses each year. The vast majority of these injuries occur in eating and drinking establishments. The restaurant industry and other retail businesses rank high among US industries for risk of adolescent worker injuries.
Restaurant safety for young workers is addressed in specific standards for the general industry.
Workers have a right to a safe workplace. The law requires employers to provide their employees with working conditions that are free of known dangers. The OSHA law also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the law (including the right to raise a health and safety concern or report an injury). For more information see www.whistleblowers.gov or worker rights.
OSHA can help answer questions or concerns from employers and workers. To reach your regional or area OSHA office, go to OSHA's Regional & Area Offices webpage or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
Small business employers may contact OSHA's free and confidential on-site consultation service to help determine whether there are hazards at their worksites and work with OSHA on correcting any identified hazards. On-site consultation services are separate from enforcement activities and do not result in penalties or citations. To contact OSHA's free consultation service, go to OSHA's On-site Consultation webpage or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) and press number 4.
Workers may file a complaint to have OSHA inspect their workplace if they believe that their employer is not following OSHA standards or that there are serious hazards. Employees can file a complaint with OSHA by calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), online via eCompliant Form, or by printing the complaint form and mailing or faxing it to your local OSHA area office. Complaints that are signed by an employee are more likely to result in an inspection.
If you think your job is unsafe or you have questions, contact OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). It's confidential. We can help. For other valuable worker protection information, such as Workers' Rights, Employer Responsibilities, and other services OSHA offers, visit OSHA's Workers' page.
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