Follow the law! Adolescent workers are protected by two laws enforced by the Department of Labor (DOL):
Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and the Occupational
Safety and Health Act (OSH) Act. Each state
also has child labor laws. Employers must comply with both federal and state laws. When federal and
state standards are different, the rules that provide the most protection to youth workers will apply.
OSH Act requires that employers provide a safe and healthful work environment and comply with
occupational safety and health standards. This includes following
OSHA Standards such as:
Consider implementing the following:
- Employers must assess the hazards in their workplace, select the appropriate (PPE) personal protective
equipment for their employees, (such as gloves, aprons, and foot protection) and have their employees use
the PPE [1910.132(a)]
- Employers must make any employees exposed to hazardous materials aware of the hazards and train them to
protect themselves from these hazards [1910.1200
Hazard Communication Standard].
- Employers must display a poster
prepared by the DOL or your state
labor department informing employees of the protections of the Occupational Safety and Health Act P.L.
91-596, December 29, 1970 and its amendments.
DOL Youth Worker FLSA Information: Child Labor Fact
- A review of the worksite to eliminate identified hazards and ensure jobs are as safe as possible.
- Provide training to ensure that adolescents recognize hazards and are
competent in safe work practices. Training should include how to prepare for
fires, accidents, violent situations, and what to do if they get injured. Teens need to know that if they
get injured, they have the right to file a claim to cover their medical benefits and some of their lost
- Provide appropriate supervisors for teens that recognize hazards and are
competent in safe work practices.
- Routinely verify through supervision that teens continue to recognize hazards
and use safe work practices.
- Stress safety, particularly among first-line supervisors; they have the
greatest opportunity to influence teens and their work habits.
- Implement a mentoring or buddy system for new youth workers. Have either an
adult or experienced teen be a buddy to answer questions to help the inexperienced worker learn the ropes
of a new job.
- Encourage teens to ask questions about tasks or procedures that are unclear
or not understood.
- Remember that teens are not just "little adults." Employers must be mindful of the unique
aspects of communicating with teens.
- Ensure that equipment operated by teens is both
legal and safe for them to use. Employers should label equipment young workers are
not allowed to operate. The YouthRules! website has available downloadable
stickers for employers to place on hazardous equipment to alert all workers that no one under 18 years
of age may operate the equipment. There is also a sticker designed specifically for forklifts
developed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
- Develop a safety and health program in your facility to help prevent
- A strong safety and health program involves all workers, supervisors, management, experienced workers,
and teen workers.
- Many safety and health problems and injuries can be prevented through simple workplace or work process
- For help in establishing or improving your safety and health program, see the OSHA
Consultation Program Directory.
- Additional help for small businesses can be found at OSHA's
Small Business Outreach Training Program Safety and Health Topics Page, including a Self-Inspection
Example Child Labor Violations and Penalties:
- Fact Sheet #2
Restaurants and Fast Food Establishments under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
- Fact Sheet #32
Youth Minimum Wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
- Fact Sheet #34
Important Changes in the Child Labor Laws Affecting the Driving of Automobiles and Trucks Under Hazardous
Occupations Order No. 2.
- Fact Sheet #37
Application of the Federal Child Labor Provisions to Amusement Parks and Recreation Establishments.
- Fact Sheet #38
Application of the Federal Child Labor Provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to Grocery
- Fact Sheet #40
Federal Child Labor Laws in Farm Jobs. [Spanish]
- Fact Sheet #41
- Fact Sheet #43
Child Labor Provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for Nonagricultural Occupations. [Spanish]