The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is proposing revisions to child labor regulations to strengthen the safety requirements for young workers employed in agriculture and related fields. The proposed updates are based on the enforcement experiences of the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), recommendations made by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and a commitment to bring parity between the rules for young workers employed in agricultural jobs and the more stringent rules that apply to those employed in nonagricultural workplaces.
The proposal would strengthen current child labor regulations prohibiting agricultural work with animals and in pesticide handling, timber operations, manure pits and storage bins. It would prohibit farmworkers under age 16 from participating in the cultivation, harvesting and curing of tobacco and, with a limited student learner exemption, from operating most power-driven equipment. It would prohibit young workers in both agricultural and nonagricultural employment from using electronic devices, including communication devices and MP3 players with earbuds, while operating power-driven machinery.
The DOL also is proposing to create a new nonagricultural hazardous occupations order that would prevent children under 18 from being employed in the storing, marketing and transporting of farm product raw materials. Prohibited places of employment would include country grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, stockyards, livestock exchanges and livestock auctions.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes a minimum age of 18 for hazardous work in nonagricultural employment and 16 in agricultural employment. Once agricultural workers reach age 16, they are no longer subject to the FLSA’s child labor provisions. The FLSA also provides a complete exemption for youths employed on farms owned by their parents.
Public comments on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking must be received by Nov. 1, 2011. More information, including a complete list of the proposed revisions, is available in the Federal Register published today. Compliance Poster Company is tracking the proposal. Check back with us and share your comments here.