Yes, you may be. Every year about 70 teens in the United States die as a result of injuries at work. An additional 70,000 teens are hurt on the job and have to go to a hospital or emergency department. Teens are often injured on the job because of unsafe equipment, because they were working too fast or under stress or because they didn't have proper safety training or supervision.
It depends on the kind of work you do. Some examples of hazards by type of work are listed below.
Yes. Depending on your age, certain jobs are considered too dangerous for you according to federal labor laws. (These laws don't apply to children working on family farms.)
If you're younger than 18, you are not allowed to:
Also, if you're 14 or 15, you may not do the following activities:
If you're younger than 14, there are even stricter laws to protect your health and safety.
Federal child labor laws protect 14- and 15-year-olds from working too often, too late or too early. Some states have laws that apply to older teens as well. If you are 16 years old or older, there are no restrictions on your work hours.
|Work hours||From 7 a.m. to 7. p.m.|
|Not during school hours|
|From 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. between June 1 and Labor Day|
|Maximum work hours when school is in session||18 hours a week but not more than:|
|3 hours a day on school days|
|8 hours a day on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays|
|Maximum work hours when school is not in session||40 hours a week, 8 hours a day|
By law, your employer must provide a safe and healthful workplace that is free of hazards and sexual harassment. Your employer should also provide safety and health training.
You have the right to refuse to work if the job is immediately dangerous to your life or health. If you feel unsafe or think your rights have been violated, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor. Remember, it's illegal for your employer to fire you or punish you for reporting a workplace hazard.
To work safely you should keep the following in mind:
Protecting the Health and Safety of Working Teenagers by H Rubenstein, MR Sternbach, SH Pollack (American Family Physician August 01, 1999, http://www.aafp.org/afp/990800ap/575.html)
Adapted from "Are You a Working Teen?" Rockville, Md.: Dept of Health and Human Services, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1997; DHHS (NIOSH) publication no. 97-132.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff