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Teen Worker Safety

In 2020 four teen workers (17 years old and younger) died while working in Indiana. During that same time, 26 teen workers (17 years and under) were killed across the United States.
Approximately 870 teen workers (16-19 years old) were injured in Indiana in 2020.  During that same time, approximately 32,970 teen workers (14-19) were injured across the United States.

Regardless of where you work—in a restaurant or grocery store, in an office or on a farm, the Indiana Department of Labor wants you to stay safe and healthy!

State and federal laws limit the hours of work for minors and prohibit teens from working in certain industries and performing specific hazardous job duties. The Indiana Department of Labor encourages teens, parents, guardians and employers to familiarize themselves with Indiana's Child Labor laws.

Indiana has eliminated work permits completely, and now requires all employers with five or more minor employees (under age 18) to begin using the Indiana Department of Labor’s Youth Employment System (YES) to track and report minor-employee information.

YES has been available since June 1, 2020. Employers who fail to comply with the new law that goes could face penalties of up to $400 per infraction, per minor employee.

The system will not impact the state’s work-hour requirement for minors, and all employers must still comply with the Teens Work Hour restrictions and Prohibited and Hazardous Occupation restrictions for minors.

Prohibited and Hazardous Occupations

Federal OSHA and the Indiana Department of Labor take child labor issues very seriously and often times, there is a misunderstanding about what is acceptable when it comes to employing a minor. For instance, working at a family owned business does not exempt a minor, even a family member, from performing certain job duties.

Minors also have a number of laws specifically written for their protection. Among the most important are laws prohibiting minors from engaging in certain occupations.

Some occupations are deemed too hazardous for anyone less than 18 years of age. The law varies depending on the age of the worker. Minors who are 14 or 15 may not work in any Prohibited Occupation. Minors who are 16 or 17 may not work in any Hazardous Occupations. The Prohibited Occupations for 14 and 15 year olds are much restrictive than the Hazardous Occupations for 16 and 17 year olds.

A list of the Prohibited and Hazardous Occupations may be found online at

Whether you are a minor looking for employment, a parent of a minor or an employer that hires minors, it is vitally important you clearly understand what minors are and are not allowed to do in the workplace.

As more young workers get behind the wheel to drive to and from work for their summer jobs, it is important they recognize the dangers of driving while distracted. It is important to note that 16 year olds are prohibited from operating any motor vehicle on any public roadway as part of their job duties. If they have a driver’s license, they may drive to work or from work, but they are not allowed to drive as part of their job duties. 17-year-olds may drive, but only under very limited circumstances. For more information on these driving restrictions, visit

What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is any non-driving activity that a driver participates in that distracts him or her from driving. Distracted driving has dangerous and often fatal consequences. When drivers are distracted, they are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash.
Main Types of Driver Distraction
There are three types of distracted driving.

1. Cognitive distraction is taking your mind off the road.
2. Visual distraction is taking your eyes off the road.
3. Manual distraction is taking your hands off the wheel.

Distracted Driving Activities

There are a number of activities that are likely to distract drivers. Some common distracted driving activities include the following: Using a cell phone to talk, text, email or browse the Internet;

  • Eating or drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming (e.g., applying make-up, brushing hair, flossing, etc.)
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system (GPS)
  • Watching a video and
  • Changing the radio station, CD or Mp3 player

While all distracted driving activities are dangerous:

EXPERTS SAY TEXTING WHILE DRIVING IS THE MOST ALARMING because it involves all three types of distraction--cognitive, visual and manual. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, when a motorist texts and drives, they are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers who are not distracted.

Not only is texting or reading messages while driving dangerous, IT'S AGAINST THE LAW.

Texting While Driving--As of July 1, 2011, it is unlawful to type, transmit, or read e-mail or text messages on a communication device while driving in Indiana. Violators may potentially face fines of up to $500.

Other Teen Worker Safety Resources

Summer Safety Video
While the video does not cover every workplace safety or health hazard you may encounter while working, it will help you better understand how
to identify and avoid hazardous situations on-the-job.

Indiana Bureau of Child Labor
This is a great resource for information on work permits and hour restrictions, as well as prohibited and hazardous occupations. Also, you'll find answers to many Frequently Asked Questions, forms, publications and resources that will guide you as you prepare to enter the workforce.

The Teen Worker Video
A brief overview of Indiana’s Child Labor laws.

OSHA's Teen Worker Safety
For additional questions regarding the prevention of workplace injuries and illnesses, contact INSafe at

Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD)
SADD has become a peer-to-peer education, prevention, and activism organization dedicated to preventing destructive decisions, particularly underage drinking, other drug use, risky and impaired driving, teen violence, and teen suicide.