Skip to Content Accessibility Information

Guide to Safety and Health for Teen Workers - MOSH

Teen workers must have the right to:

  • A safe and healthful workplace free of recognized hazards. Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) has primary responsibility for enforcing standards through the OSH Act of 1970, to promote safety and health, including the health and safety of young workers.
  • Speak UP! If you notice a safety or health hazard at work, report it to your supervisor. If they do not address your concerns, you may file a complaint with MOSH. Please remember that it is ILLEGAL for your employer to punish or fire you for reporting a workplace safety or health problem.
  • Use required personal protective equipment, including safety clothing, hard hats, safety eyewear, hearing protection, and get training on how to use them properly from your supervisor. You must be trained in the use of hazardous chemicals.

Work only the limited number of hours and at the types of work permitted by state and federal laws. Federal child labor laws and state labor laws apply if you are under 18 years of age.

Examples of Safe Work Practices for Youth

Different colored smocks are issued to employees under the age of 18 at a chain of Pennsylvania convenience stores. That way, supervisors know who isn’t allowed to operate the electric meat slicer.

Teens are issued a laminated, pocket-sized "Minor Policy Card" on the first day of work at a Pennsylvania supermarket. The card explains the firm’s policy and requirements for complying with child labor laws.

An employer in the fast-food industry, with 8,000 young workers in 5 states, developed a computerized tracking system to ensure that teens under 16 years of age are not scheduled for too many hours during school weeks.

Teens are responsible to:

Follow your employer’s safety and health rules and wear all required protective equipment.

Follow safe work practices for your job, as directed by your employer. Working safely may slow you down, but ignoring safe work procedures is a fast track to injury. There are hazards in all workplaces, and recognizing and dealing with them correctly may save your life or prevent a serious injury.

ASK QUESTIONS! Ask for workplace training if it is not offered. Ask how to deal with irate customers or how to perform a new task or use a new machine. Asking questions will help you stay safe.

Tell your supervisor, parent, or other adult if you feel threatened or endangered at work. If your employer does not address your concerns, report any hazardous condition to OSHA.

BE AWARE of your environment at all times. Be careful. It’s easy to get careless after your tasks have become predictable and routine. Remember, you are NOT indestructible.

Be involved in establishing or improving your worksite safety and health program.

Trust your instincts. If someone asks you to do something that you feel is unsafe or makes you uncomfortable, check with your supervisor before doing the task. Keeping yourself safe is your first responsibility.

Teen employers must:

  • Understand and comply with child labor laws and occupational safety and health standards that apply to their business. The Fair Labor Standards Act limits the hours minors under the age of 16 can work and prohibits employing minors under the age of 18 for certain hazardous occupations.
  • Stress safety, particularly among first-line supervisors who have the greatest opportunity to influence teens and their work habits. Make sure that young workers are appropriately trained and supervised to prevent injuries and hazardous exposures.
  • Work with supervisors and experienced workers to develop an injury and illness prevention program and to help identify and solve safety and health problems. Many injuries can be prevented through simple work redesign.
  • Train young workers to recognize hazards and use safe work practices. This is especially important since teens may have little work experience, and new workers are at a higher risk of injury.