About Young Worker Safety and Health

Key points

  • Employers are responsible for providing young workers with a safe and healthy workplace.
  • Young workers may have little or no prior work experience. They also have high rates of job-related injuries.
  • Young workers can practice basic safety skills to protect themselves on the job.
Male and female young workers standing behind coffee shop counter.

Why it's important

In 2022, there were about 19.4 million workers under the age of 25 (12.2% of the total workforce).1

Young worker employment, injuries, illnesses‎

These charts include available data and trend data for multiple years.

Young workers have high rates of job-related injuries. These injuries are often the result of the hazards in the places they work, such as retail spaces or restaurants. Little or no prior work experience and a lack of safety training also contribute to injuries.

Employers must provide a workplace free of known hazards that can cause illness, injury, or death.2


Young workers have a right to a safe work environment and can contribute to keeping the workplace safe.

Employer responsibilities

Employers are responsible for the following actions:

  • Follow the rules, regulations, and codes of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Understand and comply with all relevant federal and state child labor laws.
  • Inform young workers of potential or known workplace hazards through training and other means (policies, programs, and safety practices).
  • Train workers in a language and with wording they understand so that they can follow safety rules.
  • Ensure that equipment operated by young workers is both legal and safe to use. Label equipment that young workers are not allowed to operate.
  • Ensure young workers know what to do if they get hurt on the job.
  • Display the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) poster (or state plan equivalent) listing everyone's rights and responsibilities.
  • Do not single out workers who exercise their rights under the Act (see OSHA's Whistleblower Protections).

Young drivers at work‎

Employers and parents/guardians can play an important role in keeping young drivers safe on the road.

Employers can remind young workers to:

  • Use work-supplied safety equipment and safety training.
  • Follow procedures designed for workplace safety and inform a supervisor if there is something unsafe at work.
  • Ask a supervisor to follow up with a safety person if there are concerns about a job task being unsafe.

Young workers have the right to refuse to do a job or task that is unsafe. Remind them to speak with a supervisor about all safety concerns.


You can replace a job but not a lost limb or injured back.

8 things young workers should know about working safely

While employers are responsible for providing workers with a safe and healthy workplace, young workers should have a few basic skills to help protect themselves.

Talking Safety curriculum‎

Research shows that more needs to be done to ensure that as young people join the workforce they are better protected from hazards. This free, engaging curriculum is intended for use in classrooms and other group settings.

Young workers should be able to do these 8 things:

  1. Recognize that although work is valuable, any worker can be injured, become sick, or even be killed on the job. Understand how workplace injuries can affect your life and your family.
  2. Recognize that most work-related injuries and illnesses are predictable and can be prevented.
  3. Identify hazards at work, evaluate the risks, and predict how workers can become hurt or sick.
  4. Describe the best ways to handle hazards on the job and apply these to problems at your workplace.
  5. Spot emergencies at work and know the best ways to handle them.
  6. Recognize employer and worker rights and responsibilities that play a role in safe and healthy work.
  7. Find resources that help keep workers safe and healthy on the job.
  8. Show how workers can communicate with others—including people in charge—to ask questions or report problems or concerns when they feel unsafe or threatened.

Training for young workers‎

Safety Matters is interactive teaching module a targeted to students in grades 7-12. Safety professionals can use Safety Matters to equip young people with the skills and knowledge they need to participate in safe and healthy work environments throughout their working lives.
  1. NIOSH (2024). Analysis of the Current Population Survey. Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Unpublished
  2. Employer Responsibilities for Keeping Young Workers Safe