Youth Labor Regulations

Posted by Melissa Hall in #YHSafetyTips, Aug 28, 2019

Did you know that every nine minutes a teen worker in the United States is injured on the job?

Young workers, defined as workers between the ages of 16 and 24, have rights on the job and employers have the responsibility to provide a safe work environment. Just like seasoned workers, young workers may get hurt or sick on the job for a multitude of reasons including dangerous equipment, an unsafe work environment, inadequate training or supervision, pressure to work faster to keep up, or stress.


  • Understand and comply with federal and state child labor laws, including those that limit work hours
  • Ensure that young workers receive training to identify hazardson the job site and how to react in the event of an emergency including fires, accidents, and workplace violence
  • Assign an adult or an experienced young worker to answer questions and help the new worker learn & understand the job
  • Explain who to contact if young workers have questions about tasks or procedures
  • Ensure that all equipment operated by young workers is legal and safe for them to use and label equipment that young workers may not operate
  • Inform young workers about what to do if they are injured on the job
Federal Work Hours for Teens


  • The right to work in a safe environment
  • The right to receive safety and health training
  • The right to ask questions if they do not understand their job duties or if something seems dangerous
  • The right to use required safety gear and PPE including hard hats, ear protection, and eye protection
  • The right to exercise workplace safety rights without retaliation or discrimination
  • The right to file a confidential complaint with OSHA if they believe their employer is not following OSHA standards
Federal Work Hours for Teens


Child labor laws protect workers that are under the age of 18. Federal and state laws differ, so it is important to familiarize yourself with the laws that apply in your location. In Pennsylvania the Child Labor Law (CLL) was enacted to “provide for the health, safety, and welfare of minors by forbidding their employment or work in certain establishments and occupations, and under certain specified ages.” This law requires that workers under the age of 18 obtain work permits before beginning work. This law covers work conducted in any establishment other than the minor’s residence, with the exception of farm work or domestic service in a private home.

Laws vary based on the age of the child worker.

Workers Under 18 Cannot

  • Drive anything with a motor on public streets as part of the job
  • Drive, ride on, repair, or work from powered machinery including forklifts, Bobcats, or backhoes
  • Drive, ride on, repair, or work from powered hoists including cherry pickers
    • If workers are 16 or 17 they can assist in operating lifting devices if properly trained and supervised
  • Use power tools and machinery including circular saws, chain saws, wood chippers, box crushers, paper balers, and most bakery machines
  • Work in wrecking, demolition, excavation, or roofing
  • Work in mining, logging, sawmills, forestry services, or forest firefighting
  • Work in meat and poultry plants that slaughter, package, or process meat
  • Work where you can be exposed to radiation or where explosives are produced or stored

Workers Ages 14 or 15 Cannot

  • Bake or cook on the job unless the cooking uses electric or gas grills with no open flames
  • Go house to house to sell products
  • Work as a lifeguard on elevated water slides or at lakes, rivers, beaches, etc.
  • Work on a ladder or scaffold
  • Work in warehouses
  • Take jobs in construction, manufacturing, or mining
  • Load or unload trucks, railroad cards, or conveyors

Hours that child workers can work also vary based on Federal or state laws, and hours for teens ages 14 and 15 are stricter than hours for older workers.


Federal Work Hours for Teens

For more information on laws for Young Workers, visit the OSHA Young Workers website.

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