When you embrace a safety culture that offers thorough job orientations, welcomes employee questions and feedback, provides appropriate safety gear, and much more, you are embedding a safety mindset among your employees, especially your youngest. The safety habits you help develop will contribute to your workers’ safety throughout their entire careers.

All people are perceptive. You can’t expect your employees to value safety if you don’t. And it isn’t adequate to post a few warning signs or cover safety on page 72 of the company policy manual. Communicating safety must happen routinely, be direct, and include written and verbal elements for all workers no matter their age or years of experience. Don’t assume anything. Don’t assume that young workers understand workplace hazards, know how to operate a piece of equipment or wear their PPE correctly.

As the employer, make sure that you understand the federal and state laws for what you can and cannot require of your young workers. There are limits in the types of jobs and the number of hours they can work. (Note: The rules are different for agricultural work.) Below are links to help provide guidance and safety tips for training and supporting young workers.

U.S. Department of Labor Employer Resources for Young Workers

Young Worker Toolkit

State Labor Laws

    Safety Training to Support Young Workers As the workforce ages, ensuring younger workers are up to speed is more important than ever. Training is the fastest way to fill the skill gap left behind when older workers decide to leave the workforce. Here are some creative and fun opportunities that can enhance your training techniques, so young workers leave your sessions engaged, empowered and equipped with the skills needed to do the job safely and develop a safety mindset.

    1. Interactive Presentations and Videos
      Keep it fun! Improve any PowerPoint slides by adding fun images of what not to do or engaging videos to help break up a lecture.
    2. Safety Games
      Try a game like “safety bingo” or “spot the hazard.” Hand out prizes or points that add up and can be cashed in for a bigger prize at the end of the training.
    3. Small Groups
      Divide the employees into small groups. Give them a workplace scenario and ask them as a group to outline the proper safety procedures and PPE that should be used to prevent an injury.
    4. Share Experiences
      Share a real-life example. Have an experienced worker discuss a mistake they made or witnessed that led to an injury or a situation where proper PPE prevented an injury.
    5. Use a Veteran Worker
      Have an experienced worker lead the training session. People like to hear from those who work alongside them. Let the younger workers pick their brain.
    6. Safety Role Play
      Use your facility as a stage and let your young workers be the actors. Simulate a potential hazardous situation and walk through the Dos and Don’ts.
    7. Hit the Road
      Leave the classroom and hit the production floor or jobsite. Let young workers see in real time the practices and procedures you’ve been training.

    Sharing these tips with your young workers will help them know their rights and understand the importance of workplace safety:

    Safety Tips Young Workers Should Know
    Getting hurt on the job can cost you money, your career, your health or even your life. Fortunately, most workplace accidents are easy to avoid. Here are a few things that can help keep you safe at work and prevent injury to yourself or others.

    • Know your rights: Employers must provide training, safety equipment referred to as personal protective equipment and often called PPE for short, and a safe workplace.
    • Ask questions: If you don’t know or understand something, ask.
    • Follow the rules and policies: They are written to keep you safe.
    • Get trained on the equipment for your job: It’s the law.
    • STOP THE JOB: If you see something dangerous, immediately stop!
    • BE ALERT: Workplace injuries are accidents you don’t see coming.
    • Share your safety knowledge: Help others work safely.
    • Shortcuts only work in video games: Develop smart safety practices and don’t cut corners.
    • Don’t be a hazard: When you see a hazard, remove the hazard.
    • Wear your PPE: Protect your body and wear your safety equipment properly.
    • Use proper lifting techniques: Avoid the pain of a strain.
    • Use your fall protection: Don’t take the fall.
    • Never skip housekeeping tasks: Keeping your worksite clean and tidy will help you and others avoid slips, trips and falls.