Your Rights

Safe work is rewarding work. 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. If you are under age 18, there may be limits on the hours you work, the jobs you do and the equipment you use. The following real story describes an actual case in which young workers were injured or killed at work.

Two young workers (ages 14 and 19) were killed at a grain storage facility in the Midwest when they were sent into a grain bin to “walk down the corn.” The grain bin was being emptied, and the workers’ task was to break up clumps by walking on them to make the corn flow out of the bin. The workers were not provided safety harnesses, and the machinery used for evacuating the grain was running. The suction created by the flowing grain pulled them in like quicksand and suffocated them. Workers should never be inside a grain bin when it is being emptied out, because a sinkhole can form and pull down the worker in a matter of seconds. OSHA standards prohibit this dangerous practice. This company ignored that rule as well as other protective safety requirements. In addition, child labor laws made it illegal for this company to employ a 14-year-old to work in a grain silo.

DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU! Employers are responsible for the safety of their workplaces and must provide workers with necessary training and personal protective equipment. Employers must have a plan for workplace emergencies and have medical services or first aid supplies available. Go to OSHA Young Workers for more information.

Youth Rules

Know the Rules

Before you start working, you should know what your employer can and cannot require of you. As a young worker you are limited in the types of jobs and number of hours you can work. The rules are different for agricultural work. States also have rules, and employers must follow both. Go to Youth Rules website for more information.


What Do I Need to Know About Workplace Hazards?

Federal law establishes certain safety standards and restrictions for young workers. If you are not yet 18, you are prohibited from being employed in occupations that have been declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor. There may be some exceptions that apply to your particular situation, and different rules apply to work in agriculture. Be sure to check state regulations for young workers and the OSHA rules, which apply to all employees, regardless of their age. More...


Young Worker Toolkit

Know the dos and don'ts for your employment situation. This comprehensive toolkit will provide you information to help you make the most of your work experience.

There are numerous resources to obtain information about young workers. From wages to safety and health issues, it is important for you to be informed about your rights and responsibilities. Remember, your state rules may differ from the federal rules. More...

Young Worker Safety and Health


In 2010, there were approximately 17.5 million workers less than 24 years of age, and these workers represented 13% of the workforce. Young workers have high occupational injury rates which are in part explained by a high frequency of injury hazards in workplaces where they typically work (e.g. hazards in restaurant settings associated with slippery floors and use of knives and cooking equipment). Inexperience and lack of safety training may also increase injury risks for young workers. And, for the youngest workers, those in middle and high schools, there may be biologic and psychosocial contributors to increased injury rates, such as inadequate fit, strength, and cognitive abilities to operate farm equipment such as tractors. More...

Young Worker Data

This graph shows rates for work-related nonfatal injuries and illnesses treated in emergency departments by age group in the United States for 2007. The highest rate is seen for workers 18 to 24 years of age, with a rate of 4.5 injuries and illnesses per 100 fulltime equivalents. The next highest rate is seen for workers 15 to 17 years of age, with a rate of 4.2 injuries and illnesses per 100 fulltime equivalents. Rates decline for older age groups from a rate of 2.5 injuries and illnesses per 100 fulltime equivalents for workers 25 to 44 years of age to a rate of 1.5 for workers 65 years and older. More...