size of the enterprise in which he or she is employed, his or her relationship to the employer, or the sector of the economy in which the enterprise operates.
With these principles in mind, the committee's recommendations are designed to protect young people in the workplace through education and through updated, enhanced, and adequately enforced laws and regulations. Educational efforts target the behavior of individuals—young people and their parents, employers, teachers, and mentors. While such efforts are an indispensable part of any public policies to protect the health and safety of children, experience in injury prevention has found that legal remedies often result in more rapid and larger changes in occupational safety and health than reliance on individual behavioral change alone (see Chapter 6). The conditions under which minors can work are already limited by regulation. The committee's recommendations address the need for revision or elaboration of those existing limitations. Because such efforts require adequate data, the committee also recommends improved data and surveillance systems and more general research.
Young workers' occupational injuries, illnesses, and exposures to hazardous substances are preventable if proper public health actions are taken. Surveillance systems that provide information about where and how youngsters are injured or made ill while working is essential for both targeting and evaluating prevention efforts. Over the past decade, government agencies have substantially improved the surveillance of illnesses and injuries sustained by adult workers; more recent surveillance initiatives have begun to provide information regarding young workers, at least with respect to their work-related injuries. These activities, however, are limited and poorly coordinated. As yet, the principal federal occupational illness and injury surveillance systems have not been evaluated to assess the extent to which they may systematically omit young workers or subgroups of young workers. The lack of specific attention to the need for data regarding issues related to the protection of young workers as a special population has often meant that even existing data concerning relevant age groups are unavailable to the public.