Safe Jobs For Youth


May 2001

The information below was disseminated by NIOSH in early May to over 20,000 principals of both public and private high schools throughout the U.S. In addition, a Teen Work Safety Poster and Brochure were included in the mailing. The purpose of the mailing was to alert and inform students about the potential hazards of summer employment and provide students with information for protecting themselves and others from occupational injury and illness.

Students will soon be leaving classrooms for summer or permanent employment. Although working is a sign of a healthy, productive life, it is not without hazards. Many young workers die or are seriously injured each year at work.

For example, a 17-year-old lifeguard died on May 30, 2000, in Pennsylvania, after falling into a nearly empty swimming pool. The incident occurred on her first day of seasonal work as she worked with a crew to prepare the pool for the summer season. In another recent case, a 15-year-old Utah youth working part-time in a grocery store had his right arm amputated when it became caught in a meat grinder he was reassembling.

These were not isolated incidents. In 1999, 72 youths under age 18 died from work-related injuries. In 1998, 77,000 youths sustained injuries serious enough to require treatment in an emergency room. Research suggests that inexperience, inadequate training, and the failure of adults to prevent youths from performing dangerous jobs are factors associated with these injuries.

You can help us eliminate work-related threats to young workers. The enclosed brochure, “This Page Is No Longer Available” and poster briefly describe the hazards faced by many young workers, their rights on the job, prohibited occupations, and sources of more information. (Note that many States have their own child labor laws that may be stricter than the Federal laws described in the brochure.)

Please consider hanging the poster (NIOSH Pub. No. 98-120) in a prominent place in your school and sharing the information in the brochure with students, their parents, school and medical personnel who sign work permits, and employers. The brochure is in the public domain and may be copied and distributed as you see fit.

You may also wish to read our guide, “Promoting Safe Work for Young Workers,” which describes how schools can be involved in a community-based approach to preventing young worker injuries. The brochure, poster, and guide are available by calling us at 1-800-35-NIOSH. The brochure and the guide are also available on the NIOSH homepage at /niosh/topics/youth/. Your help in protecting young workers is greatly appreciated.

Page last reviewed: April 10, 2018