workers. However, state permit systems generally fail to facilitate the training of minors on health and safety issues. The systems seldom make use of the permits to track young people's employment to identify and prevent work-related injuries and illness or violations of hazardous orders or rules regarding wages and hours. One alternative that the committee considers worthy of serious consideration for adoption by states is to require the employers who want to hire minors to obtain permits first. The states of Washington and Oregon have adopted such systems, which enables their labor departments to set and enforce working conditions.

Recommendation: The Department of Labor, in collaboration with NIOSH, should report on the existing and potential work permit or registration systems for young workers and for employers who intend to hire young workers. The report should examine the cost, use, and effectiveness of permits or registration for health and safety education, surveillance, enforcement, and reduction of workplace injuries and illnesses.


The committee identified several critical areas in which additional research is needed for the adequate protection of young workers. Because so many young people in the United States are working, it is important to determine the strategies that will best serve to make their work experiences safe and healthful. Such research requires increased knowledge about the risk factors (hazards, level of training and supervision, fatigue, and so on) that lead to workplace injuries and illnesses among children and adolescents, as well as evaluation of injury prevention efforts. Agencies that fund research on children and adolescents should be provided sufficient resources to fund the following types of initiatives:

  • Longitudinal studies of how individuals who have worked in their youth function as adolescents and adults and how various outcomes are associated with the quality of the work experiences. Research on working children and adolescents has primarily focused on the effects of the numbers of hours worked. Little attention has been paid to the quality of the work environment and its effect on development, workplace injuries, and educational goals.

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