Youth @ Work: Talking Safety

A guide for teaching high school students about occupational health and safety.

What is Youth @ Work: Talking Safety?
Youth @ Work: Talking Safety is a curriculum designed to help teachers, as well as school and community based job placement staff, give young people the basics of job health and safety, and workplace rights and responsibilities, in a fun and interesting way. This curriculum has been designed to teach core health and safety skills and knowledge, covering basic information relevant to any occupation. In addition, there are versions designed specifically for students in vocational technical education health services and culinary arts programs. The learning activities in these curricula are intended to raise awareness among young people about occupational safety and health and provide them with the basic skills they need to become active participants in creating safe and healthy work environments. You do not have to be an expert in occupational health and safety to introduce the concepts and skills in Youth @ Work: Talking Safety.

Youth @ Work: Talking Safety Trainings

Staff from the Teens at Work Project are available to teach Youth @ Work: Talking Safety to teens and students in any setting, or to provide "train the trainer" sessions to give educators an overview of and tips for teaching the curriculum.

If you are interested in a training, please contact the Teens at Work project at (617) 624-5632 or

How can I obtain a copy of Youth @ Work: Talking Safety?
The original curriculum has a version that is specific to each state because some laws and agency names vary from state to state. The state-specific versions of the curriculum are available for free download from:

As mentioned above, Youth @ Work: Talking Safety has also been modified by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for use in vocational technical education health services and culinary arts programs.

Click on the links below to obtain free copies of the modified versions of Youth @ Work: Talking Safety:

Food Service Safety Edition

Health Services Safety Edition

Sexual Harassment Supplementary Lesson

Summer Jobs Supplementary Scenarios

The following include teen workplace injury scenarios specific to day care, day camp, and grounds maintenance job settings.

Overview of the Curriculum

The activities in Youth @ Work: Talking Safety highlight hazards and prevention strategies from a wide variety of workplaces. The materials are very flexible. They may be used as a stand-alone curriculum or may be incorporated into other safety programs. Teachers who have used this curriculum indicated that the material was an excellent introduction to other safety instruction such as the OSHA 10-hour course or occupational specific safety instruction.

Youth @ Work: Talking Safety presents essential information and skills through a focus on six topic areas:

Lesson 1, Young Worker Work Injuries, assesses students' current knowledge of job safety and legal rights. It also introduces students to these issues and emphasizes the impact a job injury can have on a young person's life.

Lesson 2, Finding Hazards, develops an understanding of the common health and safety hazards that teens may face on the job.

Lesson 3, Finding Ways to Make the Job Safer, explains measures that can reduce or eliminate hazards on the job. It also shows students how to get more information about specific hazards they may face and how to control them.

Lesson 4, Emergencies at Work, introduces students to the various types of emergencies that may occur in a workplace, and how the employer and workers should respond to them.

Lesson 5, Know Your Rights, focuses on the legal rights all workers have under health and safety laws, the special rights young workers have under child labor laws, and the government agencies and other resources that can help.

Lesson 6, Taking Action, helps develop skills in speaking up effectively if a problem arises at work.

The curriculum has also been modified to be used specifically with students in culinary arts and health and medical assisting programs. The Youth @ Work: Talking Safety Food Service Safety and Health Care Safety Editions are available by contacting the Teens at Work Project at (617) 624-5632 or

What is included?
Lesson Plans, Overheads, and Student Handouts are provided for all six lessons. The 10-minute videotape presented in Lesson 1 is available online at:, and can be played directly from the internet or downloaded to your computer. The Appendix includes an optional handout which gives more information about hazards in typical teen jobs, a list of resources, and a Certificate of Completion which may be photocopied.

Each lesson begins with an introductory discussion, followed by two or three participatory learning activities for teaching the concepts of that lesson. At least one of the learning activities in each lesson is very basic, with minimal or no reading required, and is designed to meet the needs of all students. Several of these activities have been developed for, and pilot tested with, students who have cognitive and learning disabilities.

This entire course can be taught in three to five hours, depending upon whether you teach one activity, or all activities, from each lesson. It can also easily be broken-up and taught in class periods. If you have limited time to devote to this topic, consult the section at the end of each lesson called "Tips for a Shorter Lesson."

Why teach students about occupational health and safety?
Approximately 80% of teenagers have had a job by the time they graduate from high school. While work has many benefits, it also has risks: nearly 200,000 teens are injured on-the-job every year. With appropriate knowledge and skills, teens can play a role in making their workplaces safer - now and as they move into adulthood.

Occupational health and safety instruction is required under the School-to-Work Opportunities Act and the Perkins Vocational Act.

For more information contact:

Teens at Work: Injury Surveillance and Prevention Project
Occupational Health Surveillance Program
Massachusetts Department of Public Health
250 Washington Street, 6th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 624-5632

For additional information and resources contact:

Robin Dewey
Labor Occupational Health Program
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720-5120
Phone: (510) 642-2477

This information is provided by the Occupational Health Surveillance Program within the Department of Public Health.