Health and safety of young workers: proceedings of a U.S. and Canadian series of symposia. Runyan CW, Lewko J, Rauscher K, Castillo D, Brandspigel S, eds. Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2013-144, 2013 May; :1-3
Working for pay, either after school or during the summer, is a usual part of teenage life throughout the US and Canada, with up to 80 percent of high school students working at least some time during the course of a year. Young workers (under age 25) are employed in multiple industries and engage in many types of tasks and, as a result, are exposed to a variety of work-place hazards, including operating dangerous tools, machinery, and vehicles and handling cash in settings prone to robbery. Training is sometimes minimal and adult supervision limited. Employers may not fully understand the laws or be motivated to comply with them or they may not recognize that these inexperienced workers need special attention. Those charged with en-forcement may not have sufficient support to carry out their duties, in part because the public and policymakers are unaware of the importance of the issue. Despite these downsides, work can be an important component of adolescent development, helping teens and young adults develop valuable work skills, exercise autonomy, and achieve a greater degree of competence and financial independence. Literature related to the health and safety of young workers appears in the domains of public health, youth development, social psychology, education, economics, labor law, and organizational psychology. However, there is very limited integration across these disciplines. Conse-quently, guidance for practice and policy can be fragmented at best. A report of the National Research Council (NRC), Institute of Medicine  revealed a number of issues associated with young worker safety and youth development and made nearly 20 recommendations about surveillance, research and intervention efforts to improve safety for young workers, relying mostly on literature from public health and youth development. In the time since the NRC re-port was published, progress has been made in both research and programmatic efforts, but continued advancement of understanding and improvements in programs and policies are still important.