Employer Responsibilities for Keeping Young Workers Safe

Do you employ young workers? Young workers are those new to the workforce, even up to age 24. Young workers can be an asset to your workforce. However, it may be their first job or the first time they are operating equipment.

Child labor laws restrict the types of jobs, hours worked and equipment used by youth under age 18. Learn about the federal and state child labor laws that apply to young workers.

Protecting temporary workers: Many young workers are also temporary workers. Host employers must treat temporary workers as they treat existing workers, especially including adequate training to young temporary workers. Temporary staffing agencies and host employers share control over the employee, and are therefore jointly responsible for the temp employee's safety and health.

You can prevent or reduce workplace injuries and make work safer for all workers, including youth. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act), employers have the responsibility to provide a safe and healthful work environment and comply with occupational safety and health standards. First-line supervisors have the greatest opportunity to protect young workers and influence their work habits. Stress safety!

Employer Responsibilities:
For Young Workers
  • Understand and comply with the relevant federal and state child labor laws. For example, these laws prohibit youth from working certain hours and from performing dangerous/hazardous work.
  • Ensure that young workers receive training to recognize hazards and are competent in safe work practices. Training should be in a language and vocabulary that workers can understand and should include prevention of fires, accidents and violent situations and what to do if injured.
  • Implement a mentoring or buddy system for new young workers. Have an adult or experienced young worker answer questions and help the new young worker learn the ropes of a new job.
  • Encourage young workers to ask questions about tasks or procedures that are unclear or not understood. Tell them whom to ask.
  • Remember that young workers are not just "little adults." You must be mindful of the unique aspects of communicating with young workers.
  • Ensure that equipment operated by young workers is both legal and safe for them to use. Employers should label equipment that young workers are not allowed to operate.
  • Tell young workers what to do if they get hurt on the job.
Employer Responsibilities:
For All Workers
  • Provide a workplace free from serious recognized hazards and follow all OSHA safety and health standards.
  • Find and correct safety and health hazards.
  • Inform employees about hazards in the workplace and train them about applicable OSHA standards in a language they understand.
  • Provide safety training on workplace hazards.
  • Provide the required personal protective equipment (PPE) and pay for most types of required PPE.

Employers are strongly encouraged to develop an injury and illness prevention program. An effective program benefits all workers, including youth, and involves supervisors, management, experienced workers and new workers.

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 us on our 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 our How to File a Complaint page for instructions.