Your teen employees are the next generation of workers in the U.S. The teens you hire develop personal skills that make them more likely to go on to further their education and succeed in life. As you hire these young people, know that you do make a difference.
Educating them about professional standards, workplace health and safety, rights on the job, and how to communicate effectively will shape the workplaces of the future as well as keep your business running smoothly. Measures you take to keep teens safe will help protect all employees. In particular, teens get hurt when:
- They take on jobs for which they’re not trained
- They don’t have appropriate supervision
- They work with dangerous equipment
This website can help you prevent injuries by providing you with important information on key California child labor and health and safety laws, training tips, and other steps employers can take.
Six Steps to Safer Teen Jobs
- Know the laws
- Understand the California child labor laws. These prohibit teens from working late and/or long hours, and doing especially dangerous work.
- Understand Cal/OSHA’s workplace safety and health regulations. These are designed to protect all employees, including teens from injury.
- See the Compliance Checklist for a summary of key laws.
- Check Your Compliance
- Make sure teen employees are not assigned work schedules or asked to do job tasks that violate the law, or given prohibited job tasks like operating heavy equipment or using power tools.
- See later sections of this factsheet for more information.
- Make Sure Teens Have Work Permits
- Workers under 18 must apply for work permits at their school district office before beginning a new job. Work permits are not required for those who have graduated from high school or passed the high school equivalency exam.
- Stress Safety to Frontline Supervisors
- Make sure frontline supervisors who give teens their job assignments know the law.
- Encourage supervisors to set a good example. They are in the best position to influence teens’ attitudes and work habits.
- Set Up a Safety and Health Program
“Most teens are enthusiastic and eager to learn. They make my work a lot of fun. But teens can be injured on the job when they don’t receive adequate safety training and supervision.”
Scott Silver, Operations Manager, Oakland Zoo
- Make sure all jobs and work areas are free of hazards. The law requires you to provide a safe and healthy workplace.
- Under Cal/OSHA regulations, every workplace must have an Injury and Illness Prevention Program. Involve every worker in the program, including teens.
- Find out if there are simple low-cost safety measures that can prevent injuries.
- Train Teens To Put Safety First
- Give teens clear instructions for each task, especially unfamiliar ones. Provide hands-on training on the correct use of equipment. Show them what safety precautions to take. Point out possible hazards. Give them a chance to ask questions.
- Observe teens while they work, and correct any mistakes. Retrain them regularly.
- Encourage supervisors to take teen workers along on periodic health and safety walk-through inspections to spot hazards and unsafe practices.
- Encourage teens to ask questions and to let you know if there’s a problem or directions are unclear. Make sure teens feel free to speak up.
- Prepare teens for emergencies-accidents, fires, violent situations, etc. Show them escape routes and explain where to go if they need emergency medical treatment.
- Supply personal protective equipment when needed-goggles, safety shoes, masks, hard hats, gloves, etc. Be sure teens know how to use it.