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OSHAs Houston, Texas Area Offices co-hosted an event in Houston, Texas on April 2, 2005 that provided thousands of young workers with information on workplace safety and other labor issues. Over 6,000 people attended the second annual event, called the Youth Rules! Rally and Job Fair.

This free event gave teens and young adults age 14 to 24 a way to find summer and post-high school employment, gather job search tips, and learn how to identify potential on-the-job safety risks and how to avoid being injured at work. The event was hosted by OSHA, the City of Houston, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) Gulf Coast Chapter, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the WorkSource, a human resources provider in southeastern Texas. Several local businesses sponsored the event.

Mark Briggs, the Compliance Assistance Specialist with OSHAs Houston South Area Office, was the master of ceremonies at the 2005 rally. The Houston Area Offices shared a booth, provided three training sessions on OSHA requirements related to young workers, and put on a game show quiz to give young worker a fun way to learn about workplace safety and health.

At the OSHA booth, staff answered questions from young workers and passed out OSHA publications, including the Teen Workers brochure, the Youth poster. During the game show quiz, participants answered multiple choice questions about workplace safety and other employment issues concerning young workers. OSHA handed out prizes for correct answers.

In addition to OSHA information, attendees learned about recently enacted federal requirements for young workers. The requirements concern the operation of compactors and balers, what limited on-the-job driving may be performed by 17-year-olds, what types of cooking 14- and 15-year-olds can perform, and an expansion of the prohibition against youth under age 18 working in roofing occupations.

This event has come a long way in a short time. At the first annual event in 2004, 750 people attended the rally, which was held at a local shopping mall. The 2005 event was so popular that thousands of people had to be turned away at the door at Houstons George R. Brown Convention Center. OSHA and the other hosts sent out materials after the event if contacted by a parent or young worker. The event organizers also posted materials on the ASSE Gulf Coast Chapters Web site for those that could not attend. Planning is already underway for the third annual event in 2006.

The rally was part of national initiative launched by DOL in 2002 called YouthRules! This initiative is designed to increase awareness of federal and state rules concerning young workers by bringing together teens, parents, educations, employers, government, safety professionals, unions, businesses, and advocacy groups. More information on the DOL young worker initiative is available from the Youth Rules Web page.

For more information on the Houston rally, please contact Mark Briggs.