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Younger workers’ have safety rights, too

For many Denver teenagers, their first job provides them with their first sense of freedom as well as their first major responsibility. Now, they have an opportunity to earn an income, but they also have to stick to their new schedule, learn fresh skills and develop a professional demeanor for the workplace. The majority of adolescents get jobs that pay minimum wage or just more than that, often working in restaurants, for retailers or completing general office work. Regardless, young people in Denver still have safety rights while they are on the job!

It's critical that both teenagers as well as their parents understand their rights within the workplace, and that they also recognize the responsibilities that their employers have while they are on staff. 

Workplace rights of teenagers

Every worker has the right to work in a safe environment, even teenagers. It is important that adolescents and their parents recognize the workplace rights of teenagers. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, those rights include:

  • The right to work in a safe and secure environment. Your workspace should be free of hazards that can easily result in injury or illness.
  • The right to receive safety training. You also have the right to receive this training in a language that you understand. If you do not speak English, you should inform your employer that you require safety training in your native language. 
  • The right to question authority to learn more about taking the proper safety precautions and to address concerns regarding a potentially unsafe environment. It can be difficult for young workers to approach their superiors, so it is especially important that they know they have the right to do so.
  • The right to receive the proper safety equipment. Safety equipment should be purchased by the employer.
  • The right to exercise all workplace rights without fear of discrimination or retribution. A teenage worker who questions the safety of their workplace or who asks for training in a language that they understand should not face any discrimination as a result of these questions or concerns.
  • The right to file a complaint. Teenagers should report any safety issues or injuries to their supervisors, but they also can file a complaint with OSHA.

Employer responsibilities when hiring teenagers

Employers often love to hire young workers because they are ready and eager to work and can be hired for a lower wage than many adult workers who have more financial obligations. However, hiring teenagers does not give employers the right to treat them any way that they wish. They have certain responsibilities that they must adhere to when employing young people, especially young people under the age of 18. Beyond the fact that they must make sure the workplace environment is as safe as possible, they also have to make sure that they provide you with training and equipment to keep you safe. Any safety equipment that is mandatory should be purchased by the employer, rather than the employee.

How can you stay safe while working?

One of the best ways to ensure that you have a positive experience with your first job is to take precautions while working. There are simple preventative measures that can keep you from being injured or becoming ill while working, such as:

  • Using all safety equipment that has been provided and recommended by your employer.
  • Listening attentively during all training exercises and employing those techniques while you are fulfilling your job responsibilities.
  • Always asking for help and never being afraid to ask questions. 
  • Make an effort to report anything that seems unsafe. You should first report these instances to your supervisor, but then go higher up the chain of command if nothing is done about your concerns. 

What should you do if you are injured while working?

In the event that you are injured while working at your job, you first need to get the medical care that you need. After you have been treated, it often helps move the workers’ compensation claims process along by discussing your case with an experienced attorney who focuses on workplace safety law.

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