Building a Generation of Safe and Healthy Workers: SafeYouth@Work

Project Duration
December 2014
December 2019
Funding and Year

This global, multi-country project sought to improve occupational safety and health issues of young workers, and to promote a culture of prevention of occupational illness and injury.  Programming placed a particular focus on those aged 15-24, who, as they join the workforce, may be positioned to contribute to a sustainable and prevention-focused OSH culture.    

The Problem

According to ILO estimates, every year over 2.3 million women and men die at work from an occupational injury or disease. Young workers, aged between 15 and 24, are the most affected. These workers suffer up to a 40 percent higher rate of nonfatal occupational injuries than older workers. Due to their lack of job experience, young workers are often less able to safely handle hazardous substances and job tasks. They may be more likely to underestimate or overlook the safety and health risks associated with their job. Young workers are also particularly vulnerable to intimidation, denigration, and violence in the workplace.

Our Strategy

The project aimed to promote the safety and health of young workers on the job, with a particular focus on those aged 15-24, who, as they join the workforce, may be positioned to contribute to a sustainable and prevention-focused OSH culture.  In addition to activities designed to elevate youth OSH issues at the global level, the project piloted a broad range of efforts in three countries (Burma, Philippines, and Vietnam), as well as more limited programming in Argentina, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Indonesia, and Uruguay.  Key focus areas included raising global awareness of the elevated OSH risks for young workers and placing the issue on the national agendas of the project’s target countries; improving national OSH data collection and reporting; increasing youth engagement on OSH issues; and incorporating OSH information into technical and vocational education programs (TVET) for youth.


The project played an instrumental role in building comprehensive policy frameworks for youth OSH protection, supporting the passage of five national OSH laws and regulations and the adoption of four national OSH action plans and three national OSH Profiles. 

In 2017, the project launched a successful campaign to increase awareness of the special vulnerability of youth to OSH hazards by convening the SafeYouth@Work World Congress in Singapore. Youth Champions identified and trained by the project went on to form youth groups in their home countries to promote OSH awareness and advocacy.  These groups organized competitions, OSH-for-youth talks, and social media campaigns; and one created an innovative OSH educational board game. The project ultimately engaged 4000 youth in OSH awareness and promotional activities.

The project developed and delivered a variety of youth OSH manuals, brochures, and training resources. It trained 700 labor inspectors, law enforcement officials, and teachers and provided TVET services to 1156 youth.

The project successfully mainstreamed OSH topics into educational programs in five countries, such as a new Boy Scout OSH merit badge curriculum in the Philippines and an OSH certificate program in Colombia.  The ILO’s Labor Administration and Inspection/OSH Branch and the ILO International Training Center (ITC) produced a training course, Strategies to Ensure OSH for Young Workers.  In addition, the project created a self-training manual on this topic.  By project’s end, an educational game app for children about decent work and OSH, called What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?, had been downloaded to nearly 800,000 electronic tablets.

International Labor Organization (ILO)
Contact Information:
(202) 693-4843 / Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking (OCFT)
Child Labor
Occupational Safety & Health (OSH)
Youth Employment