IR #2011-10
May 16, 2011

Dean Fryer
Erika Monterroza


California Labor Commissioner highlights labor rights and safety
for young workers at Pasadena High School

Pasadena—May 16, 2011—Julie Su, the first Asian American Labor Commissioner, represented the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and joined the Department of Education and other members of the California Partnership for Young Worker Health and Safety, at a press conference at Pasadena High School today to highlight the importance of protecting youth from being injured or killed on the job.

“We want to educate and inspire California’s young workers so that they can be safe on the job,” said Labor Commissioner Julie Su.  “In this day and age all young people need to know about their workplace rights and responsibilities, which include the right to speak up, ask questions, and take initiative to practice safety.”

Approximately 630,000 youth from ages 16 to 19 are working at any given time in California, frequently in entry-level jobs with little or no safety training. Every six minutes somewhere in the U.S., a teenager is injured on the job. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, an estimated 146,000 young workers nationwide are injured on the job annually. An estimated 47,000 are injured seriously enough to go to the emergency room. Most of these injuries can be prevented through a comprehensive education and awareness strategy.

“As we guide our young people to explore careers and job opportunities, it is vital that we also provide them with the tools they need to ensure their own health and safety in the workplace,” said State Superintendent Tom Torlakson. “The Safe Jobs for Youth public awareness campaign provides this critical knowledge to our young people ensuring they enjoy and learn as much as possible and are as safe as possible in their respective jobs.”

The California Partnership on Young Worker Health and Safety, funded by the California Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation, is comprised of government agencies and statewide organizations representing educators, employers, parents and job trainers, offers online resources including fact sheets and comprehensive information detailing safety and labor law requirements. Online materials also include publications and FAQs for young workers to learn about their workplace rights.

This year, the Partnership again sponsored a job safety awareness contest which included safety posters and a 30-second video public service announcement designed and developed by teens to convey the importance of workplace safety for youth. This year’s contest winners are all from Southern California: the winning safety poster was designed by Andrew Adams, Vazken Avetissian and Denny Ayard of Pasadena High School. The winning video PSA was produced by Kushal Soni, a Diamond Bar High School of Walnut. The winners were honored guests at today’s event.

The winning safety poster will be distributed statewide to schools, libraries and other teen venues to raise public awareness, and the first place video PSA will be distributed to California television stations, teen web sites and featured on movie screens at theatres located in the winner’s community.

Young workers are encouraged to report workplace hazards to Cal/OSHA and can refuse any work if it poses an immediate danger. California law also prevents employees from retaliation if they report an unsafe working condition.

The Labor Commissioner’s office (DIR’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement) adjudicates wage claims, investigates discrimination and retaliation complaints, and enforces state labor law. Cal/OSHA (DIR’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health) investigates safety and health violations and enforces states workplace safety laws.

For more information on DIR’s Young Worker program, the California Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation and the California Partnership on Young Worker Health and Safety, visit

Employees with work-related questions or complaints may call the toll-free Worker Information Hotline at (866) 924-9757.

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