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OSHA Targets Younger Workers

“Young workers! You have rights!” shouts the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s new safety campaign aimed at younger workers.

OSHA stresses that employers bear extra responsibility for keeping young workers safe.

“Young workers are those new to the workforce, even up to age 24,” the agency said. “Young workers can be an asset to your workforce. However, it may be their first job or the first time they are operating equipment.”

OSHA also reminded employers that child labor laws restrict the types of jobs, hours worked, and equipment used by youth under age 18.

It says first-line supervisors have “the greatest opportunity” to protect young workers and influence work habits and they should stress safety.

In addition, OSHA reminds employers of its view regarding joint liability for young workers who come from temporary staffing agencies.

Temp agencies and host employers share control over the employee and are jointly responsible for the temp employee’s safety and health.

Host employers must treat temporary workers as they treat existing workers, including providing adequate training for young temporary workers, OSHA says.

That training should be in a language and vocabulary that workers can understand and should include prevention of fires, accidents and violent situations, and what they should do if injured.

Ensure that equipment operated by young workers is legal and safe for them to use, OSHA stresses. That includes making sure to label equipment that young workers are not allowed to operate.

OSHA also recommends that employers create a mentoring or buddy system for new young workers where an adult or experienced young worker answers questions and helps the new young worker learn the ropes.

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