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Young Workers

Why are young workers a public health concern?

When compared to adults and older workers, workers under the age of 25 are injured more often. Many factors contribute to this increased risk. The factors commonly reported in the scientific literature are listed below.

Young workers:

  • Are more likely to perform unfamiliar tasks
  • Switch jobs more frequently than adults
  • Are motivated to prove themselves
  • May not ask questions to avoid looking inexperienced
  • Lack work-related experience
  • Receive training that is not tailored to their age or ability
  • Are left to work with inadequate supervision
  • Are still developing physically and are more susceptible to injury from hazardous substances and cumulative trauma disorders
  • Work for employers that are not aware of child labor laws including restrictions on working hours, conditions and prohibited/hazardous occupations or operations

What's going on in Oregon?

"Save a Friend. Work Safe."

If you are a high school student in Oregon the annual "Save a Friend. Work Safe." public service announcement (PSA) video contest is one way you can get involved in the effort to call attention to young worker health and safety. Each year the top three winners take home cash prizes. The contest is sponsored by Oregon OSHA, American Society of Safety Engineer, SAIF Corporation and the Oregon Health Authority. Check out previous years submissions and winners here.

Biennial GOSH Conference

The Govenor's Occupational Safety and Health (GOSH) Conference is held every two years to bring together safety professionals across the state to discuss current and emerging occupational safety and health issues. The Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition sponsors a youth program as part of the conference to educate and promote awareness of occupational safety and health concerns and opportunities for high school students.


According to the Information Management Division of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS), there were 26,583 accepted disabling claims filed by workers younger than 25 years in Oregon between 2000 and 2008. The most common type of injuries were sprains and strains (49%), followed by fractures (11%) and lacerations (9%).

The industries with the most claims in Oregon from 2000-2008 were:

  • Wholesale and retail trade (21%);
  • Manufacturing (14%);
  • Construction (12%); and 
  • Accommodation & food service (11%).

 data chart

The occupations with the most claims in Oregon from 2000-2008 were:

  • Transportation and material moving (17%);
  • Construction and extraction (13%);
  • Production (12%); and
  • Food preparation and serving related (10%).

data chart 



The following resources provide information about occupational health and safety for young workers, employers, unions, educators, parents, and youth community groups.


Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division, Young Workers

United States

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) - Young Worker Resources

Occupational Safety and Health Administration - Teen Worker Resources

US Department of Labor - Youth Rules!


The Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents - Young Workers

Work Safe BC -Young Workers


Putting Data to Work

This resource was produced by the Occupational Public Health Program (OPHP) to summarize statistics from multiple data sources for young worker injury, illness and deaths in Oregon.

Putting Data to Work: Young Workers (pdf)

Youth @ Work Talking Safety Curriculum

The following curriculum was designed and produced by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health for use in classrooms or other group training settings. It has been customized for each state and Puerto Rico to address state-specific rules and regulations.

Youth@Work: Talking Safety


Youth Rules! Employer Guides

The US Department of Labor created guides to inform employers of rules that specifically apply to young workers. The link below includes pocket guides, in both English and Spanish, for construction and agricultural employers, as well as a guide including general rules and safety tips.

Youth Rules! Employer Guides


Parent Safety and Health Checklist

This checklist, created by the Federal Network for Young Worker Safety & Health, is designed for parents to use with their teen or young adult before the teens look for work; after they have received job training; and to help identify questions or topics not covered in their on the job training or orientation.

Parent Safety & Health Checklist

Teens and Young Adults

O[yes] - Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition

O[yes] meets regularly to prevent injuries and deaths experienced by young workers. O[yes] is comprised of members that represent various perspectives throughout the state. Membership is open and O[yes] welcomes and encourages new perspectives and members. O[yes] asserts that all injuries are preventable, all individuals have a right to safe work and that young workers deserve to be treated respectfully and fairly.

Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition

Check out O[yes] on Facebook

Can you dig it?

This is a brochure published by the US Department of Labor to educate young workers in the landscaping, greenhouse, and nursery industries. It provides information about how to work safely, including information about protection from pesticides, heat stress, electrocution, and slips and trips.

Can you dig it? (pdf) 

Teen Worker Safety in Restaurants

This is an eTool created by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It highlights the hazards in restaurants (e.g. clean-up, food preparation, serving food, and more) and provides prevention strategies.

Teen Worker Safety in Restaurants (eTool)

Youth in Agriculture

This is an eTool developed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It describes agricultural hazards (e.g., chemicals, machinery, tractors, and more) and provides prevention strategies.

Youth in Agriculture (eTool)

You've Got Your Whole Life Ahead of You

This is a brochure published by Oregon OSHA to educate young workers (age 14-17) about the hours and jobs that different age groups are allowed to work. It also gives tips about how to keep safe on the job.

You've got your whole life ahead of you (pdf) (pdf)