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Young workers

General Information Overview

Young workers, ages 14 to 25, face a greater risk of injury and death in the workplace. Youth in the workplace generally have less job experience, do not receive proper job training, and might be hesitant to ask questions about safety. These factors all contribute to higher rates of injury and death among young workers.

Read below for information on young worker rights, child labor laws, and what others can do to help prevent young worker injury and death. For publications, videos, and training on young worker safety check out the Young Worker topic page.

Young workers have influence in the workplace and the right to speak up about risks in the workplace. All laws in Oregon about workplace safety and regulation apply to young workers.

Young workers must be paid at least minimum wage; must receive a 15-minute break every four hours; and must receive a 30-minute meal break when working six or more hours.

Also, there are limitations on the hours and types of jobs that young workers can do. See the chart for the number of hours that young workers ages 14 and 15 and 16 and 17 can work when school is and is not in session.

hours teens can work when school is or is not in session. Age 14-15, 3 hours per day, 18 hours per week when school is in session. 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week when school is not in session. Age 16-17, no daily limit and 44 hours per week when school is or is not in session. 

There are also limits on the types of jobs that young workers can do.

A few of the jobs you can’t do if you’re younger than 18 years old:

  • Work with power-driven machinery
  • Logging or work in sawmills
  • Work with saws or nail guns
  • Messenger services between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

A few of the jobs you can’t do if you are under 16 years old:

  • Workshop or warehouse jobs
  • Cooking with an open flame or bakery oven
  • Woodcutting or sawing
  • Work on ladders or scaffolding

For more information on jobs restrictions for workers under 18 and other child labor laws, visit the Oregon BOLI website.

Empower the young workers around you; injury and death of young workers can be prevented by speaking up about risks in the workplace.

Working too quickly

Doing work you're not trained to do

Incorrectly using tools and equipment

Being under the influence of drugs/alcohol

Working for long periods without supervision

​Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace for young workers age 14 to 25 years old. The risk of injury or death is higher for young workers, especially during their first years of work. Young workers may be less likely to ask questions or bring up safety issues in an effort to prove themselves. To prevent safety concerns, employers should train employees in a language they understand, encourage questions, label equipment that minors cannot use, and give instructions on what workers should do if they are injured.

Employers must also obtain an Employment Certificate to employ workers ages 14 to 17. This certificate must be updated annually.

For more resources and publications on young workers, visit our Young Worker topic page​.​

​Young worker injury and death can be prevented through awareness and education. Parents should ask their children questions about their workplace and be on the lookout for red flags. Help your child be more aware of potential risks in the workplace, and encourage them to speak up if they feel unsafe or notice a workplace hazard. For information and resources, visit the Young Worker topic page.

Many young workers start their first job in high school. Educators have a unique opportunity to reach this group and inform them of workplace safety. Find resources and teaching curriculum on the Young Worker topic page​.

​Young workers are a valuable force in the workplace, and safety for young workers is important to OSHA. Read below to learn eight tips on how to stay safe at work.

8 great tips to be safe on the job

1.

Be careful with machines

Be cautious with machinery and follow these key rules:

  • Use machines that are properly guarded
  • Never reach into moving or energized machinery
  • Don’t operate machinery with high-speed moving parts, such as drill presses, while wearing gloves or loose clothing
  • Never use electrical equipment while standing on a wet surface

2.

Beat the heat

High temperatures and high humidity, combined with hard work, can lead to illness and even death. Stay out of the heat if you begin to have dizziness, headache, rapid pulse, nausea, vomiting, and dehydration. To help prevent heat-related illness, wear cool and comfortable clothing, take more frequent breaks, use sunscreen, wear a hat, avoid caffeine, and drink plenty of water.

3.

Stay out of confined spaces

Confined spaces, such as tanks, pits, or crawlspaces, are full of hazards such as toxic gases, lack of oxygen, and dangerous equipment. Do not enter permit-required confined spaces.

4.

Dress properly

Your employer should provide you with personal protective equipment, which can include hardhats, safety shoes, safety glasses, and hearing protection. Be sure you know how to use this equipment properly. For example, use earplugs or earmuffs if you have to shout to talk to someone next to you. Wear safety glasses if you work with grinding machines with flying particles.

5.

Help prevent slips and falls

To prevent slips and falls, floors should be clear of spills, trash, electrical cords, and other tripping hazards. If you need to use a ladder, be sure to have your supervisor tell you how to correctly use it.

6.

Lift loads safely

To lift objects safely, follow these steps:

  • Get close to the load
  • Bend your knees and keep your feet slightly spread
  • Keep your head, shoulders, and hips in a straight line
  • If you need to turn, move your entire body rather than twisting
  • Know how much weight you can safely lift

7.

Know what to do in an emergency

Learn where the first-aid kit is in your workplace. Your employer should inform you of what to do in the event of an emergency such as a fire or earthquake.

8.

Report unsafe working conditions

Report unsafe conditions or equipment to your supervisor. If you believe you are in danger, you probably are.

Most importantly, listen to your gut. If you are asked to do anything that seems unsafe or looks risky, speak up!

 

Additional Resources

O[yes] Oregon young employee safety

Youth@Work - Talking safety curriculum for Oregon


How to Report

If you need to report an unsafe workplace you can file a complaint with OSHA using our online form.

If you have been injured on the job you can file a claim with Workers’ Compensation using the online form. Tell your employer about your injury immediately.

If you need to report discrimination at work, retaliation from your employer because you filed a complaint, or issues with wages/hours you can file a complaint with the Bureau of Labor and Industries using the online form.

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