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.
Know 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?
Federal law limits the number and hours that 14- and 15-year-olds can work in non-agricultural worksites.
They 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.
Here'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)
Driving a motor vehicle as a regular part of the job or operate a forklift
Operating many types of power equipment such as meat slicers, power saws, and bakery machinery
Wrecking, demolition, excavation, or roofing
Logging, mining, or working in sawmills
Meat packing or slaughtering
Any job involving exposure to radiation
Any job where explosives are manufactured or stored
Anyone age 14 or 15 is also banned from the following jobs or work-related activities:
Baking or cooking
Operating power-driven machines such as lawnmowers and electric hedge clippers. (Low-risk machines like photocopiers and computers are alright.)
Climbing ladders or scaffolding
Working in warehouses
Manufacturing, building, or working in construction
Loading or unloading trucks, railroad cars, or conveyors
Youth 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 questions about the Fair Labor Standards Act, see the U.S. DOL Employment Standards Administration interactive advisor.
Other Resources for Teen Workers:
Preventing 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).
YouthRules! U.S. Dept of Labor's website to increase public awareness of federal and state rules concerning young workers. YouthRules! Compliance Assistance includes:
(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.