Young Worker Safety

As teenagers start working they are learning new skills and often working in unfamiliar environments. It is the employer’s legal obligation to train all workers on potential hazards to help reduce injuries. The information in this section will help ensure a safe experience for young workers.

Each year North Dakota has an average of 775 claims filed for workers 19 years old and younger. A majority of WSI’s claims, for all ages of workers, occur within the first year on the job.

WHAT DO I DO IF I GET INJURED

If the injury is life-threatening, please go directly to the nearest emergency room. In all other cases, please report the injury to your employer immediately after it happens.

Read about the full claims process

YOUNG WORKERS

As a young worker, you play an important role in workplace safety and health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2013, there were approximately 18.1 million workers younger than 24 years old, which accounted for 13% of the workforce. As a young worker, you need to understand your rights, as well as what's needed to stay safe on the job.

Teen Actions

  • Follow all safety rules and instructions
  • Ensure you receive the necessary training to do your job properly and safely
  • Always wear the proper safety equipment needed to do your job
  • Report any safety concerns to your supervisor
  • Be aware of potential workplace hazards
  • Ask questions
  • Ask for help if needed
  • If something is not safe don’t do it

OSHA - Workers' Rights

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration states the following rights you have at work

  • Work in a safe place
  • Receive safety and health training in a language that you understand
  • Ask questions if you don’t understand instructions or if something seems unsafe
  • Use and be trained on required safety gear, such as hard hats, goggles and ear plugs
  • Exercise your workplace safety rights without retaliation or discrimination
  • File a confidential complaint with OSHA if you believe there is a serious hazard or that your employer is not following OSHA standards

Resources

EMPLOYERS

As an employer you are responsible for ensuring the safety of your teen workers. The following information will provide the knowledge needed to ensure your teen worker's safety.

Employer Actions

  • Be aware that a teenager’s decision-making process is not yet fully mature; therefore, they may not always be able to distinguish what is unsafe behavior
  • There is a good chance that this is the teen’s first job so they may not be aware of safety requirements. Provide initial safety orientation and ongoing safety training for all employees. Consider adopting a Safety Mentoring Program in addition to orientation. For more information, see the Safety Orientation section of the Safety Action Menu.
  • Verify all assignments and equipment restrictions with North Dakota’s Department of Labor laws
  • Consider participating in WSI’s Safety Incentive Programs to assist in the development and improvement of the safety and health of your workplace
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration states the following employer responsibilities for all workers:
    • Provide a workplace free from serious recognized hazards and follow all OSHA safety and health standards
    • Find and correct safety and health hazards
    • Inform employees about hazards in the workplace and train them about applicable OSHA standards in a language they understand
    • Provide safety training on workplace hazards
    • Provide the required personal protective equipment (PPE) and pay for most types of required PPE

ND Department of Labor and Human Rights - Key Requirements

  • 14- and 15-year-olds must file an Employment and Age Certificate with the Department of Labor and Human Rights in order to work
  • There are limited work hours for 14- and 15-year-olds
  • Prohibits certain hazardous employment and some employment tasks for 14- and 15-year-olds
  • Under North Dakota law there are no restrictions for persons over the age of 16. However, there are federal child labor laws for anyone under the age of 18

Resources

PARENTS

Parents of working teenagers play an important role in their teen’s safety. It is crucial that parents take an active role in keeping their teens safe. North Dakota’s Department of Labor and Human Rights has regulations that limit the type of work teenagers can do.

Parental Actions

  • Be involved in your teen’s employment, know who they are working for as well as the type of work they do. See the ND Department of Labor and Human Rights – Key Requirements section below for information on the limitations and restrictions
  • Ensure that your teenager is aware of potential safety hazards and has received adequate safety training. Make sure that your teenager knows what to do in the event of an emergency
  • Monitor your teen’s progress at work

ND Department of Labor and Human Rights - Key Requirements

  • 14- and 15-year-olds must file an Employment and Age Certificate with the Department of Labor and Human Rights in order to work
  • There are limited work hours for 14- and 15-year-olds
  • Prohibits certain hazardous employment and some employment tasks for 14- and 15-year-olds
  • Under North Dakota law there are no restrictions for persons over the age of 16. However, there are federal child labor laws for anyone under the age of 18

Resources

FACTS & STATISTICS
  • Since 2011, North Dakota has had 2 fatalities of workers under the age of 19
  • According to the CDC, “In 2015, 403 workers younger than 24 years of age died from work-related injuries, including 24 deaths of youth younger than 18 years of age”
  • Teens are more likely to receive injures when not properly trained or supervised on the job
  • The majority of teen injuries in North Dakota are lacerations, strains/sprains, contusions,burns & fractures; but some teens, each year, will end up on disability due to severe injuries
  • Disability can change the course of a teenager’s life and possibly close the door on their dreams for the future