Teen Worker Safety & Health
Teen workers are a vulnerable population with unique needs, including different learning styles. Many have little to no experience in the workplace. This can lead to exposures to serious hazards while working.
Employers who hire teen workers (workers younger than 18) need to provide safety training that is specific and targeted to hazards in their industry to ensure they understand what necessary measures are in place to protect them.
This page provides safety and health resource information for employers, supervisors, and teen workers to keep everyone safe and working.
General requirements for teen workers
To keep teen workers safe and healthy, youth under the age of 18 are prohibited from certain duties on the job. Prohibited duties vary depending on the worker’s age and whether the job is agricultural or non-agricultural. See the Prohibited Duties page to learn about these limitations.
See How to Hire Minors to learn about the requirements for hiring workers younger than 18. The minimum legal age to work in Washington State is 14 years old, with some exceptions. Special considerations for teen workers include:
Specific rules for hiring teens
- Non-Agricultural Employment of Minors Chapter 296-125 WAC
- Agricultural Employment Standards Chapter 296-131 WAC
Other safety and health rules that may apply
- Agriculture Safety Standards Chapter 296-307 WAC
- Construction Safety Standards Chapter 296-155 WAC
- Core Rules Chapter 296-800 WAC
Meeting Workplace Safety & Health Requirements
All employers in Washington state must have a written Accident Prevention Program (APP). Employers that hire workers younger than age 18 may want to document ways to ensure young workers are not allowed to perform duties that are prohibited for workers younger than 18.
Use the optional resources below to build and strengthen your workplace safety program, and keep teen workers safe and healthy.
- Lost Youth
- Teen Workers : Real Jobs, Real Risks / Trabajadores adolescentes : Trabajos reales, riesgos reales (in English & Spanish)
- OSHA: Young Workers’ Rights
- Teen Worker Safety Matters (OSHA)
- Teaching Talking Safety - series of six short videos (CDC)
Publications, Handouts, Checklists
- Employing teens under 18 in food service? F700-167-000
- Hiring teens? F700-142-909 (English & Spanish)
- Sports Teams and Youth Workers F700-130-909 (English & Spanish)
- Teens at Work: Facts for Employers, Parents, and Teens F700-022-000 (Spanish, Chinese-Simplified, and Vietnamese)
- Youth in Construction F700-145-909 (English & Spanish)
- Young Workers in Agriculture F700-096-909 (English & Spanish)
Handouts & Checklists
- Preventing Deaths, Injuries & Illnesses of Young Workers (NIOSH)
- R-Rated Equipment Label (Oregon OSHA)
- Young worker safety (Oregon OSHA)
- Young Worker Safety in Restaurants eTool (OSHA)
- Youth@Work—Talking Safety Curriculum for Washington (CDC)
A national campaign effort to increase awareness and promote workplace safety and health resources for teen workers.
Gov. Jay Inslee has proclaimed June, 2022 "Safe Jobs for Youth Month." We all play a role in youth safety at work, employers, teens, and parents. From May through August, and again from November through December, Teen Worker Safety & Health campaigns emphasize the importance of keeping teens safe and healthy as they begin life in the working world.
- #KeepTeenWorkersSafe - Resources from the national campaign for Teen Worker Safety.
- Injured Young Workers Speakers Program L&I's program that brings speakers who were severely injured on the job as young workers to high schools, skills centers, colleges and universities around the state.
- Youth@Work—Talking Safety Curriculum for Washington - fun, free, and engaging curriculum that helps teachers and school/community-based job placement staff educate young people about the basics of job safety and health.