Work is a common feature of adolescent life in the United States. Despite its many economic and educational benefits, it also has negative consequences for far too many youth. Occupational injuries to young people happen too often and can have devastating and permanent effects. Over the past decade, teen work injuries have come to be recognized as a significant public health problem that deserves attention.

Although labor departments have traditionally taken the lead in protecting young workers, public health professionals also have a vital role to play in safeguarding our working youth. Public health brings to this issue specific expertise in injury control and occupational health and safety as well as the development of health education programs for adolescents. Many other players, including educators, employers, unions, and agencies serving youth, also have an interest in protecting teen workers. This guide is designed to facilitate collaboration among these groups by providing information on the scope and causes of the teen work injury problem, along with examples of how each group can contribute its expertise and resources to reduce hazards faced by teens on the job.

Protecting Working Teens: A Public Health Resource Guide is the product of a collaboration between the Children's Safety Network (CSN) and the Occupational Health Surveillance Program (OHSP) in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. This guide is primarily aimed at public health professionals - that is, staff in state and local public health agencies and health care providers working in community settings. However, labor and education professionals, and others with an interest in adolescent health and safety, should also find it useful. The sections of this guide are described below.

Part I: Occupational Injuries to Teens: The Problem and Strategies for Prevention

  • The first part of this guide describes the problem of on-the-job injuries to adolescents and presents strategies for prevention and education. It is divided into two sections:

  • Understanding the Problem: Provides an overview of adolescent employment, the scope of the injury problem and its relationship to violations of child labor laws, and the factors that make teen workers different from adults.
  • Developing Prevention Strategies: Describes an overall approach to reducing occupational injuries to teens, outlines the role public health can play, and provides examples of responses to the problem from labor, education, and public health agencies and researchers.

Part II: Resources for Prevention

  • The second part of the guide contains descriptions of resources useful to those interested in initiating or increasing activity in the area of adolescent occupational injury prevention. The sections are as follows:

  • Sources of Work Injury Data
  • Agencies and Organizations Involved in Teen Work Injury Prevention
  • Selected Readings and Resources for Professionals, Youth, Parents, and Employers
  • Summary of Federal Child Labor Laws
  • References

    Note: This guide focuses primarily on nonagricultural injuries. Laws and cultural norms affecting teens employed in agriculture are distinct from those in other occupations, making the problem especially complex and requiring particular prevention strategies.

Copies of this guide may be purchased for $8.00 each.
To order, make checks payable to: Education Development Center, Inc.
Send to:
Children's Safety Network, Education Development Center, Inc.
55 Chapel Street
Newton, MA 02158-1060

For additional information please call: (617) 969-7100 ext. 2207 at the Education Development Center, Inc. or email: teens.atwork@state.ma.us at the Occupational Health Surveillance Program.


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