For young workers entering the workforce, there are likely many questions or concerns you may have. (And some concerns you may not even know to have.) OSHA has a lot of information just for young workers to check out to ensure they’re not getting taken advantage of. The basic idea to OSHA is that “employers must follow all OSHA safety and health standards to prevent you from being injured or becoming ill on the job. If you are under age 18, there may be limits on the hours you work, the jobs you do and the equipment you use.”
Basic Rights All Workers
If you’re starting your first job, you don’t have to take whatever is handed to you because you’re at the “bottom of the ladder.” You have the right to work in a safe environment, to receive appropriate training for your job duties in a way that you understand it (i.e., in your language), to ask questions if you need further clarification or if something seems unsafe, to receive appropriate PPE, and to exercise your rights without discrimination or retaliation.
Your employer should provide you with a safe workplace and follow OSHA safety and health standards. They should provide proper training about potential hazards and give you the required gear to do your job well and in safety. They should respond to your questions and inform you of what to do if you get hurt on the job. If you feel your employer is not providing the above necessities, you have the right to file a confidential complaint with OSHA.
Parents of New Workers
If you’re a parent of a child that is getting their first job, you’re probably excited and nervous at the same time. This is completely normal. You can be an advocate for your child even though you’re not at the work site with them. They probably want their independence and may not be willing to share certain information with you, but it’s still important to get an idea of how they’re treated at work. Be aware of where your children are working and what their roles are. Ask questions about their training and what they’ve been up to at work. You may want to question them about their supervisors and how they interact with your child. If you see signs of concerns such as the job taking an unhealthy mental or physical toll on their body, you may need to step in. Notice if their school performance has dropped or if they’ve lost interest in activities they used to love. These are signs that the job may be demanding, and it may be time to look somewhere else for work. However, you feel there is a true safety issue, make sure you also report these hazards to OSHA to make sure appropriate measures will take place.
OSHA has several resources for young worker safety and health. Shield-Safety is also passionate about protecting our workers here in Utah, but even more so with our youth. Education is key to a safe workplace for everyone.