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Things to Know as a Young Worker: You Have Rights!

Filed in Safety, Workplace Rights, Youth By on June 23, 2015

The sun is out and so is school, which means the season of young workers is upon us. Whether you’ve just graduated and are starting your career or you’re a teen heading to your first summer job, you are probably not expecting to get hurt or injured at work.

Unfortunately, young people are often among the most vulnerable members of our nation’s workforce. In 2013, 335 young workers were killed on the job. And every 9 minutes, a U.S. teen gets hurt at work. Workers under the age of 25 are twice as likely to be injured on the job as older workers. If you are new to the world of work, you may not know that you have the exact same rights as any other worker or how to use them.

We here at OSHA believe that safe work is rewarding work, and your employer has the responsibility to provide a safe workplace. Employers must follow all of OSHA’s safety and health standards to prevent you from being injured or becoming ill on the job.

So for National Protecting Young Worker Safety Day, we’ve compiled three common hazards young workers face and resources to stay safe!

1) If your summer job involves spending hours in the sun, you are susceptible to heat illness. As temperatures rise across the nation, it’s important for all employers and their workers to know that “Water, Rest, Shade” are three words that can make the difference between life and death.

Check out OSHA’s Heat Safety Tool mobile app to calculate the heat index for your area and get reminders about how to prevent heat illness on the job. Available in English or Spanish on iPhone, as well as BlackBerry or Android devices, this recently updated app has been downloaded more than 200,000 times and is just one of many resources OSHA is offering as part of its Heat Illness Prevention Campaign.

2) In addition to heat exposure, jobs in landscaping can involve exposure to pesticides and injuries from mowers or other equipment. A Safety & Health Guide for Young Workers in Landscaping, Greenhouses, & Nurseries (PDF) is available through OSHA’s interagency work group, the Federal Network for Young Worker Safety and Health. A Spanish-language version of the guide, Agorra la Onda, is also available.

3) Another common hazard is falling from a ladder, roof or scaffold. Falls are the leading cause of death in construction, which is why OSHA is getting the word out, in English and Spanish, about how employers and supervisors should “Plan, Provide, Train” to prevent fatal falls and save lives.

OSHA’s goal is to make sure that each young person’s first job is just the beginning of a long, safe and healthy working career. Our young workers page offers tailored information and more resources on worker rights and summer job safety. You can help, too, by spreading the word to your friends, family and other students that young workers have rights.

Caitlin Harwood is a Presidential Management Fellow in OSHA’s Office of Communications (and a young worker!).

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  1. Janey London says:

    What age can youth begin working and what do they make per hour? How is it acceptable to pay them less to do the same work as someone over 18 and get paid less?