OSHA Teen Worker Rules Summary

OSHA Teen and Youth Worker Rules and Rights

Related information on other pages about teen workers for Educators | Employers | Spanish Links | Potential Hazards | Real Stories |  What's New | Questions | Other Resources | Credits | Comments | DOL Youth2Work 

You have the right to:

A safe and healthful workplace free of recognized hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) within the Department of Labor has primary responsibility for setting and enforcing standards through the OSH Act of 1970 to promote safety and health, including the health and safety of young workers.

Worker Rights under the Act

bulletRefuse to work if you believe in good faith that the job or conditions are dangerous and are exposing you to imminent danger. Call (800)321-OSHA immediately to report imminent dangers.
 bulletSpeak up! If you notice a safety hazard at work, report it to your supervisor or boss. If they don't address your concerns, file a complaint with OSHA or your state labor offices.
            Please remember, it is illegal for your employer to punish or fire you for reporting a workplace problem.
 bulletWork only the limited hours and at the types of work permitted by state and federal laws. Federal child labor laws and state labor laws apply if you are under 18 years old.
         bulletNon-agricultural youth workers: hours permitted and jobs permittedbulletAgricultural youth workers: hours permitted and jobs permitted
 bulletUse required personal protective equipment, including safety clothing, hard hats, goggles, ear plugs, and get training on how to use them properly.
 bulletGet training about health and safety, including information about machines, job tasks, and hazardous chemicals that could be harmful to your health.
 bulletDemand payment for your work, at least minimum wage for your state. There are some exceptions:
         bulletMinimum Wage Laws in the United StatesbulletStates Minimum Wage for Tipped EmployeesbulletDownloadable Poster Describing rights of Employee
 bulletAsk for payment for medical care (workers' compensation) if you get injured or sick because of your job. You may also be entitled to payment for lost wages if you miss work because of your injury.
 bulletWork without racial or sexual harassment. Contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission to report racial or sexual harassment.

Laws and Prohibitions:

bulletKnow the Federal child labor laws and the State child labor laws for the area in which you live, so you can recognize if employers are following the law. For example, are employers working your teens longer hours than allowed or in unsafe conditions?

 bulletFederal law limits the number and hours that 14- and 15-year-olds can work in non-agricultural worksites.

 bulletThey are not permitted to work during school hours, or before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. between Labor Day and June 1. During the summer, they can work only between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. (Again, state laws may be more stringent.) When school is in session, teens aren't allowed to work more than 18 hours each week, more than three hours on a school day, or more than eight hours on a weekend day or holiday. When school is not in session, they're prohibited from working more than 40 hours each week or eight hours per day.

 bulletHere's an example of of jobs and work-related activities that the federal government prohibits for non-agricultural workers under 18. (Some states have even stricter regulations) 
  bulletDriving a motor vehicle as a regular part of the job or operate a forklift
 bulletOperating many types of power equipment such as meat slicers, power saws, and bakery machinery
 bulletWrecking, demolition, excavation, or roofing
 bulletLogging, mining, or working in sawmills
 bulletMeat packing or slaughtering
 bulletAny job involving exposure to radiation
 bulletAny job where explosives are manufactured or stored

 bulletAnyone age 14 or 15 is also banned from the following jobs or work-related activities:

 bulletBaking or cooking
 bulletOperating power-driven machines such as lawnmowers and electric hedge clippers. (Low-risk machines like photocopiers and computers are alright.)
 bulletClimbing ladders or scaffolding
 bulletWorking in warehouses
 bulletManufacturing, building, or working in construction
 bulletLoading or unloading trucks, railroad cars, or conveyors

 bulletFor a complete list of prohibited jobs see the Fair Labor Standards Act Advisor.

 bulletYouth of any age may be employed at any time, in any occupation in agriculture on a farm owned or operated by their parent or guardian.
See the DOL elaws Child Labor Laws advisor for more information on agricultural employment.

For more information

bulletSee the "My State" page.
bulletYouth and Labor Hazardous Jobs U.S. DOL Hazardous Jobs and the Fair Labor Standards Act.
bulletFor questions about the Fair Labor Standards Act, see the U.S. DOL Employment Standards Administration interactive advisor.

Other Resources for Teen Workers:


bulletPreventing Deaths, Injury and Illnesses to Young Workers, NIOSH Alert. NIOSH Publication No. 2003-128. This Alert summarizes available information about work-related injuries among young workers, identifies work that is especially hazardous, and offers recommendations for prevention, (2003, July).
 bulletYouthRules! U.S. Dept of Labor's website to increase public awareness of federal and state rules concerning young workers. YouthRules! Compliance Assistance includes:
        bulletEmployer GuidesbulletFact SheetsbulletPoster, Stickers, and Bookmarks.
 bulletYoung Worker Safety and Health. NIOSH Young Worker Safety and Health Topic Page.
 bulletChild Labor Publications. eLaws Fair Labor Standards Act Advisor.
 bulletYoungWorkers.org. California's resource network for youth worker's health and safety. 
        bulletFor Teens bulletFAQs (youth work answers for California)
bulletLabor Occupational Health Program-Youth Workers. University of California at Berkeley. 
 bulletHelp for Teen Workers, Information for Minors, Parents, Employers and Educators. Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.
 bulletInterstate Labor Standards Association (ILSA). Includes information on state agencies that administer and enforce child labor laws.
 bulletInternational Child Labor. DOL child labor issues.
 bulletPromoting Safe Work for Young Workers. CDC NIOSH, 1999, November Pub. 99-141. A resource guide documenting the experiences of three young worker projects.
 bulletNIOSH Special Hazard Review - Child Labor Research Needs. Recommendations from the NIOSH Child Labor working team, (August 1997).
 bulletSkillsUSA. A national organization of secondary and post secondary students involved in vocational education.
 bulletCareer Clusters Website. Career clusters provide an organizing tool for schools, small learning communities, academies, and magnet schools.
 bulletNational Children's Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety. A national organization that strives to enhance the health and safety of all children exposed to the hazards associated with agricultural work and rural environments.
 bulletYouth Fatalities. NIOSH FACE investigation reports of Young Worker Fatalities under the age of 18.
 bulletThe Young and the Reckless? Occupational Health & Safety Magazine article on youth injuries and deaths in the workplace.
 bulletUCLA-LOSH - Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program - Youth Project. UCLA-LOSH partners with high school educators, career advisors, life-skills coordinators, and community-based organizations to address teen worker issues. 
 bulletYoung Worker Health & Safety Centre - WorkSafe British Columbia. Online resources for workers, employers, unions, educators, parents, and youth.
 bulletJob Corps Website. Job Corps is the nation's largest and most comprehensive residential, education and job training program for at-risk youth, ages 16 through 24.
 bulletProtecting Young Workers. OSHA and the Department of Labor are reaching out to one of the most vulnerable classes of workers. Job Safety and Health Quarterly, (2003, Winter), Volume 13 no 2.

Articles and Guides for Teen Workers

bulletAre you a Working Teen? NIOSH Pub. No. 96-132.
 bulletWhy is Job Safety and Health Training Important for Teens? PowerPoint presentation, 37 slides. Young Worker Safety Resource Center. Labor Occupational Health Program, University of California Berkeley.
 bulletYoung Worker Safety and Health NIOSH Site. NIOSH programs, reports, and research on young workers.
 bulletYoung Worker Awareness Program. Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, Ontario Canada.
 bulletYou Need More Than a Job To Be Ready for Work. Saskatchewan Labour.
 bulletOSH's Website for Youth. Occupational Safety and Health Service of the Department of Labour, New Zealand youth website.
 bulletWorkplace Health and Safety's Interactive Cafe. Queensland Government  - Department of Industrial Relations.
 bulletHealth and Safety for Kids on the Farm. NIOSH, 1997.
 bulletFind It! by Audience - Students. Information and services from the DOL for students.
 bulletUS DOL Employment and Training Administration. Directing business, adults, and youth to training and employment services.
 bulletDo you have a worker complaint you would like to file with OSHA?
 bulletYoung Worker - Resources. Young Worker Health & Safety Centre, WorkSafe British Columbia.
 bullet(CCAR)-GreenLink Virtual Shop. National Automotive Environmental Compliance Assistance Center. Provides a graphical tutorial to help promote a safe and healthful working environment for the automotive repair industry.
 bulletNew York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), Youth on the Job Factsheets:
    bulletYouth on the Job factsheet #1: Your Rights. 512 KB PDF, 1 page.
    bulletYouth on the Job factsheet #2: Hazards at Work. 134 KB PDF, 1 page.
    bulletYouth on the Job factsheet #3: Stand Up for Your Rights. 512 KB PDF, 1 page.
    bulletYouth on the Job factsheet #4: Repetitive Strain Injuries. 1.3 MB PDF, 1 page.
    bulletYouth on the Job factsheet #5: Chemical Soup. 290 KB PDF, 1 page.
    bulletYouth on the Job factsheet #6: Violence at Work. 1.6 MB <>PDF, 1 page.


This page was updated on 30-Mar-2016