Eight Tips When Employing Minors for Holiday Help
Winter’s here, and you may be tempted to get help from students on break. But, did you know minors between the ages of 15 and 17 employed in construction have a seven times greater chance of being fatally injured than their peers working in other industries?
Because of the dangerous nature of the field, the Department of Labor (DOL) imposes restrictions on the type of work and number of hours that minors are permitted to perform in construction. Become familiar with these regulations to stay in compliance with federal law. Of course, state laws may have stricter laws regarding the employment of minors. Always consult your local jurisdiction before beginning employment.
Minors Age 16 and 17
Those employed at age 16 or 17 may work on construction sites, but there are several tasks or jobs that are deemed hazardous for them to perform, such as:
- Working in occupations involving mixing, handling or transporting of explosive compounds
- Driving a motor vehicle or working as an outside helper (17 year olds may drive automobiles and trucks on an incidental and occasional basis if certain criteria are met)
- Riding on most construction elevators and operating or assisting in the operation of cranes, hoists, forklifts, Bobcat loaders, front-end loaders, backhoes and skid steer loaders
- Loading, operating and unloading most trash compactors and balers
- Operating power-driven woodworking machines and metal forming, punching and shearing machines – including portable machines
- Operating power-driven circular saws, band saws, chain saws, reciprocating saws, guillotine shears, wood chippers and abrasive cutting discs – including portable machines
- Working in wrecking, demolition, shipbreaking, roofing and excavation
Note: This is not a complete list of hazards, and there are some exceptions provided for 16- and 17-year olds who are apprentices and bona-fide student learners.
Those Over 18
Individuals age 18 and older may perform any work in construction. In addition to understanding labor laws, here are an additional 10 steps you can take to protect young workers:
- Inform supervisors and adult workers of the tasks teens should not perform
- Make sure young workers are appropriately supervised at all times
- Label the equipment teens cannot use, or color-code their uniforms so others know they may not perform certain tasks
- Educate young workers to ensure they recognize hazards and are competent regarding safe working practices
- Training should include how to prepare for fires, accidents, violent situations and protocol for injuries. Teens need to know they have a right to file a claim to cover their medical benefits and lost work time if they’re injured
- Have young workers demonstrate they can perform assigned task safely and correctly
- Implement a mentoring or buddy system for new young workers. Have either an adult or an experienced teen worker act as a buddy, and answer questions to help the inexperienced worker learn the ropes of the new job
- Ensure equipment used by teen workers is both legal and safe
Please visit www.youthrules.dol.gov for more information about employing minors in construction.
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